Established in 2009 and owned by the pro snowboarder and Finnish native Wille Yli-Luoma. He was inspired by the Swedish fika coffee break and wanted to bring it to his adopted home town of Portland. (Remember that Fins are the worlds biggest coffee drinkers.)
Heart says it draws its coffee influences from Scandinavia and the local Portland scene -- supposedly using its rebuilt Probat to roast its beans to the "lightest degree possible" while fully developing the flavors in what each bean has to offer.
This sounds like utter nonsense when I think of all the grassy, under-roasted, under-developed coffees I've consumed from latest-generation roasters over the years. But fortunately the slightly more balanced results in the cup make these statements sound more like the usual Third Wave marketingspeak hot air than actual practice.
This is one of the things that sets Heart Roasters apart: unlike many self-described 'Third Wave' roasters, they don't do light roasts primarily as a contrarian gimmick to set them apart as a counter to the in-vogue roasting styles of the previous generation. They actually get light roasting right.
Yes, it's a lighter style and the emphasis is on a high acidity in the cup -- essentially making them a sort of one-note player for how they philosophically approach coffee. But their light roasts are balanced enough on a knife's edge to avoid the horrid grassy yellow beans that barely make it to the first crack. This is probably the pro skateboarder in Wille coming out in his coffees. And the influences of Copenhagen's Coffee Collective and Norway's Tim Wendelboe show through.
Most of their bean sources come from Africa and Latin America in search of a bigger, balanced acidity that works best with their roasting style. This puts them in contention with a lot of Scandinavian roasters for specialty lots.