Bent Penny Coffee.
I like the sound of it. I like the taste of it. And yeah, I have a good place in my heart for the team driving this up-n-coming company. A group of hard working, positive individuals who just so happen to have an equal passion for the ocean as, you guessed it: COFFEE.
I caught up with the Brothers Maclennan (two of the wheels to this four wheel vehicle) for some, shall I say, Coffee Talk.
When and how did the Bent Penny idea seed get planted?
Sam: It all started with my Aunt and Uncle. My Uncle Tom is a bit of a wild child and has always been a big influence on my life. He bought into a coffee chain back in the mid 2000’s called The Looney Bean. If you’ve been downtown in Mammoth Lakes, CA you probably have been to one of the locations. He took the chain out of the country and started what is now two coffee houses in Mazatlan, Mexico. For us, we were pumped that they moved there because it meant we always had a place to stay if we wanted to go surf the perfect left hand points that are everywhere down there. We always tried to make an annual trip to visit the family and find a few good waves. Year after year we watched their business grow. The mornings are packed with tourists and locals and it’s an awesome social gathering zone. It got my wheels spinning. I had talked with my good friend Ryan and my brother Kyle about starting our own coffee company over the past few years.
We finally decided to just go for it. We wanted to create a company that allows us to bring people together, starting with our local community and growing outwards.
The closer we got to the idea the more things seemed to make sense, like the fact that we are surrounded by a group of incredibly talented people doing awesome things. Part of my desire for the company is to showcase others doing things they love, and to inspire people to spend more time in life doing the things they enjoy. So many things have lined up for us to get this off the ground, and I could not be more encouraged with what we are doing.
Kyle: Pretty much what Sam said. It was one of those things where our family has been in the business for a while and the more we talked about it, it really seemed like a no-brainer. Ryan Ameche and myself had talked about doing this years ago, and it seemed unrealistic at the time. Then Maya and I had talked about doing it. We wanted to make a clothing company so we had an outlet for our art and creative ideas to live. Honestly, when Sam got on board and we all talked about doing it seriously, he really kicked it into motion, committing full time and energy into the start-up and making this a reality. For the team, it just seems like a perfect platform for us to continue doing what we love under the Bent Penny blanket. There is no one I would rather work with, and drinking coffee is just another perk of working together.
Tell me what a day in the life of Sam and Kyle Maclennan might look like.
Sam: Stand up, wander blindly, find water boiler, add water, boil, find coffee, grind, put the coffee in the pour-over filter, add hot water, drink, open eyes, resume normal function. I would like to tell you what a “typical” day looks like for me, but I don’t think I have those anymore. Most days I get to work on Bent Penny. It’s crazy how much motivation you can find when your working on something that you have created. Kyle tends to hit me up at about 3 in the afternoon to tell me that the surf is pumping, no matter how small it is, and that I should come meet him somewhere (usually 5 minutes from his house!). I try to get in the water everyday, I mean, what’s the point of running your own business if you can’t do the things you love? I spent this last week in the Eastern Sierras getting refreshed and finding a bit of adventure. To put things in a nutshell, I’m all over the place!
Maybe I drink too much coffee.
Kyle: My days are never ever the same. I think for most photographers that are working consistently, the only thing you can find common in your working day is looking through a lens. Subjects, locations, framing, clothing, companies all change with different ideas and concepts for there brands. For me, Bent Penny is such an amazing outlet to get back to creating things that I love and care about in a creative way. I am on the road a lot, and when I’m not, I’ve been working on Bent Penny and surfing a lot more lately rather than shooting surfing!
Where is your favorite place to travel?
Sam: I don’t think I have ever been anywhere that left as big of an impression on me as New Zealand. It feels like being in California hundreds of years ago. The people are insanely friendly. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to go back, walk away from the airport, and put my thumb up. I promise you can get anywhere in that country hitchhiking in a matter of hours. People seem to be a bit more focused on the things that matter over there. Maybe that’s an over-generalization but I wouldn’t mind spending a year or two living there.
Kyle: That is one of the hardest questions to answer, ever! I’m not sure if I could pin that one down to a specific place. Photography has taken me all over the world with so many amazing people, introducing me to so much this world has to offer. I think the people you travel with is just as important and can mold your experience for the good or the bad. Baja has such a special place in my mind for it’s vast wide open desert landscapes and when you score good waves it’s like no where I’ve ever been. Chile is also a favorite of mine in the sense of it being like California flipped upside down with endless amazing surf everywhere, wild horses and forests that smash up against the coast. Other top 3 places for me would be Hungary, Canary Islands, and Japan.
What is your personal favorite Bent Penny roast?
Sam: Honestly, I’ve tried so many coffees in the past 8 months I barely know which way is up or down, but I seem to drink our West Wind more than anything. I’ve kind of learned that a big part of the fun of being a coffee drinker is to constantly try new things; I barely drink anything for more than a week.
Kyle: It really depends how you’re making the coffee, but for me lately I have really been into the Flying Hare made with a pour over. It has a smooth strong kick to it and I’ve definitely been drinking way too much. I’m trying to learn moderation, now that we have so much coffee that we’re dealing with all the time. I really like the 395 also.
Can you tell me anything about the farming part? Are the beans organic? Do you have any cool friendships with the growers?
Kyle: As far as the beans 4 out of our 6 coffees that we have started with are Organic. This is very important to us. As of now we are working with a distributor to purchase the green beans. This will all change down the line, because with all of our adventurous backgrounds, we really want to expand upon our surf travels and go to coffee plantations to work direct with farmers.
BentPenny Coffee Roasters is very excited to be a part of the coffee community. You can find whole beans at Wetsand Surf Shop in Ventura and in our online store.