Chris Bryner was first introduced to Diana and I on our trip to Sitka last year by, Trista, a friend of Marsh. She really appreciates the best things out there, and for her, coffee is another finer thing to enjoy. Chris is celebrating coffee in an elevated platform in Sitka, making handcrafted coffee and traveling with it by bike. We thoroughly enjoyed him, his coffee and his wonderful story about his passion for coffee. We hope you do, too!
From breakfast bites to midnight snack, what is your ideal food day?
I’m a sucker for a good donut, so the ideal day would begin with a Butter & Salt from Sidecar Donuts, and of course coffee. When I’m being more sensible, I’d make a piece of toast, slather it with avocado and top with a soft boiled egg á la Molly Wizenberg, sea salt and red pepper flakes. And of course coffee.
What’s the story behind your passion for coffee? How did it all start?
Right around 2004-2005, I was tasked with opening a student-run coffee shop on the former Sheldon Jackson College campus, which is now part of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. I sent a student to Portland, OR for training at the American Barista and Coffee School. They introduced her – and by extension me – to the world of specialty coffee. Living in Sitka, I’m mostly self-taught, but have taken a few classes and attended the SCAA’s symposium this past spring.
How do you enjoy food and wine while also being healthy and fit?
Imagine a Venn diagram and fill one circle with the most nutritious foods, the other with the most delicious. I try to eat mostly stuff found where the two circles overlap, and limit my intake of super healthy, tastes-like-shit foods on the one side, and super delicious, but will kill you stuff on the other side.
Does teaching and Bunna Bike allow for a great work/play balance? How so?
Incorporating my love of coffee into my teaching has allowed me to enjoy both, and I’ve been adding other foods into the curriculum as well. Kristen Shockey taught my students how to make kraut over Skype in February and this past April, Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg of Seattle’s Delancey visited my classroom and taught my students pizza making and food writing. So I definitely get to work / play quite a bit! With that said, I run Bunna Bike the business during my summer vacation when I could be out playing so…
Five things you are dying to have right now…
Stumptown Coffee Roasters cold brew coffee with milk, street tacos, Russian River Consecration Ale, a hot fudge malt, and fresh fruit from a farmer’s market.
What are your favorite cities for food? Favorite things to eat there?
I’m going to cheat a little and refer to the OC as one city. There’s some cool things happening at the 4th Street Marketplace in Santa Ana, great beers from the folks at The Bruery and Cis Montane, the best donut I’ve eaten in the US at Sidecar Donuts, a growing coffee scene, and my favorite meal of the year at Taco Maria in Costa Mesa.
How do you always start your day on the right foot?
I like to begin my day by brewing a good cup of coffee. My 4 year old daughter Shewa makes it with me, and I love our morning ritual together.
Advice you’d give your younger self…
Five goals you want to fulfill this year…
Stand Up Paddle the lakes on Sitka’s road system, meditate for ten minutes each day, read Charlotte Biltekoff’s book Eating Right in America, watch the Macy’s Day Parade in person, rent a forest service cabin for Christmas.
What’s your first food memory?
I had just turned four, when my mom spent a day or two at the hospital giving birth to my brother. My dad made me scrambled eggs and toast for two days straight. Still love them both.
Everyone has a go-to dish. What’s yours?
Korean Tacos with pickled red cabbage & onions.
When was your last hangover? What are your cures?
I hate the feeling of nausea so bad that I avoid hangovers at all costs. On the very rare occasion that I do wake up with one, I lie on the floor and whine until they go away.
The strangest thing in your fridge right now?
The strange thing is how empty it is. We’ve just returned from a month of traveling, and would struggle to even put together a meal with what’s inside.
Death-row last meal?
A tie: either the tasting menu at Taco Maria, or the Quatro Formaggi pizza at the Hotel Sonne in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Favorite midnight snack?
Ice Cream or a bowl of cereal.