Three dudes in beanies of coordinating colors are sitting in a warehouse in Silverton; they swear the hat match-up wasn’t planned. The trio of friends — Dan Smith, Carl Arvidson and David Holman — share a passion for coffee (in addition to their sense of style) and are the team behind Proud Hound Coffee Roasters, which launched Aug. 26.
Proud Hound is Smith’s brainchild. He got the operation off the ground after less than a year of careful thought and intensive education. The Silverton warehouse isn’t exactly filled out just yet, but it has the necessities — an espresso machine, a mammoth Loring roaster and several hundred pounds of green coffee (aka coffee beans that have not been roasted yet).
First came the name: Proud Hound.
“Hounds, characteristically, are known to be dignified,” Smith says. “Most of that comes from physical appearance. But a hound knows it has value. It knows its own worth.”
Then came the mission statement: Dignity for all. That means dignity for everyone involved in the coffee process, beginning with the growers who cultivate green coffee for a living and ending with the customer grabbing a cup of drip on their way into work. Smith attended a three-day symposium about responsible green coffee buying back in April to learn about the chain of coffee production and the importance of ensuring that everyone in that chain is being treated fairly and paid a livable wage.
“From start to finish in the supply stream of coffee — from producer to importer to our employees to our customers — everyone is being shown dignity,” Smith says. “They are all important in the process.”
This notion goes for baristas as well.
“They should have the opportunity to expand their coffee career into management and even buy a house with their salary,” Smith says. “It really should be possible and for us that’s huge.”
Smith’s entry point to coffee was with the opening of Happy Bean in Mount Vernon, Ohio, but he chalks up his specialty coffee enlightenment to visits to Mission Coffee in Columbus. Later, he went on to become one of four former owners of Brick Coffee, a Norwood craft coffee shop which was open from 2016 until the beginning of this year.
Smith first flirted with the art of roasting coffee at the end of last year. He took an intensive, eight-hour workshop from the Specialty Coffee Association in Austin, Texas in the spring where he learned the basics. Before that, he gathered a knowledge base from observing and asking questions of Chris Bean and Sean Varady at Pneuma Coffee Roasters, the house roasters for The 86 in Clifton.
Arvidson got into coffee in high school by hanging around at Relax, It’s Just Coffee in Mansfield, Ohio. But he learned the bulk of his coffee knowledge from Third Wave Coffee and Golf Park Coffee in Virginia — everything from technical bar skills to green coffee buying. Prior to Proud Hound, Arvidson pulled shifts at Landlocked Social House. Now, he covers marketing and social media for the business (@proudhoundcoffee on Instagram).
Holman was the former lead barista and Analog Slow Bar specialist at Carabello Coffee in Newport.
Together, Arvidson and Smith work on roasting.*
Right now, Proud Hound’s operation is small. The current lineup includes a blend of two Colombian coffees as well as single-origin selections from Brazil, Ethiopia and Mexico.
Proud Hound also snagged an old coffee truck from Collective Espresso and commissioned Dayton’s Ink & Hammer Manufacturing Co. to slick on a new paint job that matches their retail coffee bags: a brightly colored patchwork of pinks, yellows, blues and orange.
They’ve served espresso, drip and Chemex out of their rolling Pantone color palette for plant people at Fern, coffee geeks at the Cincinnati Coffee Festival and climbers at RockQuest and Mosaic. You can snag a cup and a bag of beans for home at their next pop-up at Cutman Barbershop’s new Walnut Hills location on Nov. 16. All Proud Hound coffee can also be purchased online at proudhoundcoffee.com.
By summer 2020, Proud Hound is hoping to open their flagship cafe. They plan to offer a more amplified food program in their cafe as opposed to the standard pastry selection. Holman will oversee the opening and creative direction of the cafe when it comes to fruition.
“If you hang out in the cafe for eight hours, that croissant isn’t going to cut it,” Holman says.
All three Proud Hound partners exalt downtown’s Cheapside Café for nailing their elevated breakfast food and serving great coffee. In fact, the chances that you run into Smith, Arvidson and Holman (or any combination of the three) on any day at Cheapside are fairly high.
Beyond good food and excellent coffee, Proud Hound strives to create and live out a lasting company culture that builds into the community.
“Despite what you may feel about yourself, we want to make sure that our interaction with you builds you up as a person,” Smith says. “By participating in this culture, we hope that everyone involved can recognize that they’re loved by a lot of people, they have self-worth and they’re important and then go spread that wherever else they go.”
Proud Hound Coffee Roasters is located at 6717 Montgomery Road, Silverton. For more info or to purchase coffee, visit proudhoundcoffee.com.
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Holman also worked on roasting.