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Life & Work with Chris Guglielmo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Guglielmo.

Hi Chris, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My business partner and I are full-time touring musicians. We have a lot of downtime when we’re traveling. Everyday, we would wake up on the bus and start talking about what coffee shops were near bike. We’d pick one within reasonable distance and ride our bikes over. Nick and I always spoke about opening a coffee spot one day. In North Carolina, we met up with a friend who is a tattoo artist. We headed over to her studio and tried to decide what to get for a fun little quick tattoo based around our riding to go get coffee adventures. After a few shots in the dark Nick said “how about Legal Speed.” which is a lyric from a Lagwagon song. After that tattoo, I decided to learn how to roast coffee and we started moving forward with what is now Legal Speed. We started on a small 1kg roaster which after a while took up a lot of time to keep up with accounts and band/cycling collaboration projects. We are now roasting on a 12kg roaster, so what would usually take us five workdays now only takes us a few hours on a Monday. Our accounts that have been with us since the beginning are like family and we are continuing to grow in the community at a comfortable and fun pace.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
For the most part, everything has been smooth sailing. There are always growing pains. I strongly believe traveling for work thickened our skin a little bit. Besides roasting coffee being fairly complicated we have been very fortunate with not hitting any big roadblocks. I would say switching over from the small roaster to the bigger roaster was a bit scary. I had to basically throw out everything I learned over three years and start from scratch while trying to make sure the coffee didn’t change too much. I think that was the most stressful time for me for sure.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Nick and I play in a band called Bayside which is our full-time job. Legal Speed is our coffee roasting company where we get to be creative outside of music but still keep music involved. Legal Speed has always been about inclusivity, giving people the opportunity to learn and enjoy what we love, coffee, music and cycling. We do a ton of coffee collaborations with bands looking to offer coffee to their fans which gives us the opportunity to get fun and creative with our packaging and different styles of roast. For example: We did a collaboration with a band called Best Coast. Nick designed the label for the project and called it “Best Roast.” How fun is that! We do not take ourselves too seriously but we do make sure we always have our best foot forward.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
There are so so so many people who helped us out along the way. Without these friends, we would not be where we are today. Our friend Varin over at Bidaar Coffee was such a huge mentor for me with roasting. He was someone who would always respond to my texts so quickly. He always wanted to help and share everything he knew about roasting coffee and was so down for the hang. Jared, the owner of Hacea Coffee Source was and still is such a big part of Legal Speed. We started working with Jared from the beginning and that relationship has grown into something very special. Jared sourced green coffee for a local company and is now on his own journey, sourcing coffee from all around the globe and absolutely killing it. Getting to grow alongside Hacea has been something we have really enjoyed. Our friend Arsalan over at Flux Coffee in Long Island, NY is another roasting wizard that has always been such a good friend to us. Arsalan’s passion for coffee and work ethic is so admirable and he is someone who from the beginning has loved sharing his coffee experience with us. Literally, when we go home to NY he just brings out cup after cup to taste. I’ve had some of my most jittery days after hanging out with Arsalan and I mean that in the absolute best way.

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Image Credits
Jered Scott, Casey Steinmiller

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