Postern Coffee's Andrew Lee & Joshua Owh: Community and Asian American Representation in Specialty Coffee

Two Asian American men are drinking coffee.

All images c/o Postern Coffee.

Metro Atlanta area-based Postern is an idea started by two friends, Andrew Lee and Joshua Owh, who saw an opportunity to integrate their passion for coffee with their backgrounds as Asian-Americans. Although both Lee and Owh have been in the coffee industry for a few years, they began roasting their own fresh coffee and serving coffee-based beverages earlier this year. Through Postern, they hope to contribute to the cultural expansion that is taking place in specialty coffee, and that people can identify with what they represent. 

"We have always loved coffee, the community it brings together, the people you get to meet and collaborate with, and the ability to experiment and be creative." ~ Joshua Owh

We're excited to dive deeper into the Postern Coffee story, as Lee and Owh share their own coffee journeys, why it is particularly important for the coffee community to take care of each other, and their advice for someone who is looking to start a coffee business.

Brewista: Do you remember your first (ever) sip of coffee?

Postern Coffee: Josh’s first sip came from his mother. His mom likes to drink coffee with lots of cream and sugar, so of course he loved it from the start.

Why did you start Postern Coffee?

Being in the Southeast, and especially in Georgia, it felt like there was gap between the Asian American community and specialty coffee. We wanted to fill in that space and represent our stories as Asian American through coffee. Also, you don't see many Asian-Americans following nontraditional career paths, so we’d like to show that following your passion is a possible and valid choice.

Two new coffees from Felipe Arcila out of Colombia.

Where do you look when you’re expanding your coffee knowledge?

We feel the obvious places are forums, Scott Rao, or James Hoffman. Recently, resources have been peers we work with, or just good old fashioned experimentation. We love to play around with brew methods, extraction theory, and different roasts. 

What advice would you give to someone that holds a marginalized identity who is looking to start a coffee business?

Connect with people who share the same experiences and can offer resources and guidance. Something we are realizing is that being connected to communities that have been through the same obstacles as us can be so liberating and empowering. Once we started to see coffee communities beyond our own local area, it was encouraging to see what could be possible just from what others before us have done, and that people want to help in sharing resources.

Why do you think it is particularly important for the coffee community to take care of each other?

It’s hospitality and service towards others that makes us the most vulnerable at times. We need to make sure that we take care of our own. There’s gate-keepers, a lack of protection from abusive customers, and a lack of equity in this industry. It’s rough at times. Coffee is supposed to bring people joy and that needed boost but at the cost of the people producing, roasting, and brewing. We can change that, and need to, because for us to present the best dang coffee to others we have to be at our best dang selves.

Postern Coffee t-shirt.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you work?

Andrew has a work playlist that is 21 hours long (just so he doesn't hear the same songs everyday lol). It’s mostly J-rock, indie, and k-pop and it does feel special whenever someone comments on the music being played over the speakers.

Describe your favorite coffee drink!

We both will enjoy a solid drip or a pour over for sure. Josh’s go-to is usually an espresso shot, and Andrew drinks a cap. We are pretty boring with our coffee haha.

There are always new things to learn about coffee! What’s holding your interest the most right now? What would you like to learn more about asap?

For us, it's probably all the fun things going on with experimental processes in coffee these days. What is an ice natural? What is carbonic maceration? What do these processes do to the cup profile? It’s super exciting but also overwhelming seeing what the future of coffee is looking like, but we love the learning process and bringing it to cup.

How can your coffee community support you best right now? What do you need? 

Spread the word that we are here! We are so excited to be selling beans and sharing our stuff. We hope we can connect with other coffee people, and collaborate as much as possible. So please hit us up! We’d love to work with you :)

What’s next?

More coffee, more merch, and THE CART! We’ll be ready to work catering events and pop ups, so be on the lookout for Postern out and about :)

And speaking of connecting, you can follow Lee and Owh's journey with Postern Coffee and discover their coffee on their website.

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