We believe great coffee should be for everyone.
Throughout our years in the coffee trade we’ve watched and sometimes participated in many transformations that have expanded the reach of good coffee. In our view there has never been a better time to be a coffee lover.
However, we think the coffee industry has been bad at building on-ramps to the world of great coffee. In the quest to elevate and differentiate we’ve clothed coffee in purple prose, cloaked it behind Rube Goldberg machines, and constructed a new myth that good coffee is a rarified acquired taste, to be appreciated only by discerning epicures with gifted and finely tuned palates. The unfortunate message to customers, would-be coffee enthusiasts, even curious food writers has been making and recognizing good coffee is best left to the self-anointed experts.
And yet, from our vantage point as insiders, the stuff that lands in many cups at even the best shops still has a ways to go. New tools and techniques have raised the bar and quality-focused roasters and coffee bars abound, but exploration and discovery has given way to complacency and unquestioned assumptions. We need to keep stirring things up.
We think the way most coffee companies approach blending is broken. Too many blends are just dumbed-down dumping grounds for second-tier inventory. Afterthoughts. Boring at best. Aiming for consistency over excellence. Sometimes an occasional seasonal gimmick or a clever branding exercise. Let’s change that. Our blend, The Mix, is our sole, all-consuming focus. An ever-evolving snapshot of the best coffees we can land from the best farms, roasted with care, and tweaked in every conceivable way to taste awesome. No corners cut.
Though it’s heresy to many of our colleagues, we believe that there’s not a single-origin coffee or micro lot in the world that couldn’t be made at least a little bit more delicious with the judicious introduction of one or more additional coffees. Ambitious blending is a vast frontier. Though it’s taken us far, the sanctification of single origins keeps roasters timid. A roadblock of reverence curbing culinary creativity. We want to see how far we can go beyond this and we’d love to have you join us for the adventure!
– Tonx & Sumi
How We Got Here
Tony (Tonx) Konecny Coffee Weirdo
Tonx is a longtime coffee professional whose accidental career has run the gamut from barista to roaster to founding of the hit subscription coffee roasting service Tonx Coffee. He believes in kindness, decency, occasional indecency, and empowering coffee lovers to make the best coffee in their kitchens.
Sumi Ali Roaster Extraordinaire
Sumi has been working in coffee his entire adult life. His meticulous care and attention to detail extends beyond roasting coffee and into all his hobbies and interests. When not found roasting and tasting coffees, he’s probably working on somebody’s car or making another batch of hot sauce. He’s a believer that great coffee should be everywhere.
Dawn of Third Wave coffee Seattle 2001
Fleeing the rat race of NYC for the slower pace of the Pacific Northwest, Tonx lands in Seattle, taking a gig as an Espresso Vivace-slinging barista at the seminal Victrola Coffee, then becoming head roaster as Victrola took the plunge into building a roastery. Without him quite realizing it, his escapist coffee obsession metastasizes into a full-blown career path. He starts a couple of popular coffee blogs and is active in an emerging scene of industry geeks connecting online, arguing, and upending conventional wisdoms. With everything up for grabs and the rulebooks still unwritten, it’s a genuinely exciting time to be working in coffee.
Condesa Atlanta 2010
After years of being a barista, and while still a reckless teenager, Sumi landed the opportunity to bootstrap one of Atlanta’s first Third Wave style shops, Condesa. Sumi wanted to share some flair from his hometown of Chicago by bringing in Intelligentsia Coffee. Alongside co-founder Matt Davis, he was determined to shake up the nascent Atlanta coffee scene.
Bending the coffee bar genre Los Angeles 2006
After a fateful trip through the coffee growing regions of Mexico with Intelligentsia Coffee chiefs Doug Zell and Geoff Watts, Tonx got an offer he couldn’t refuse—a blank check to reimagine Chicago-based Intelligentsia’s retail and roasting program for the mostly-untouched market of Los Angeles. With fellow Victrola alum Kyle Glanville, he set about chopping the coffee bar menu down to seven items, elevating the role of the barista, and designing the high-touch, yet high-speed coffee bar experience that would become a template for many third-wave shops that followed.
Intelligentsia Los Angeles 2012
In 2012 Sumi packed up everything and headed west on a whim. At the time, the most vanguard coffee bar to work for was Intelligentsia’s second L.A. outpost near Venice Beach. With its unusual all-day flow of customers, an all-star barista crew, and creative “slow bar” station, it was one of the best shops to hone the craft of making coffee. Sumi emerged as a customer favorite both for his relaxed confidence and his unusually high espresso batting average.
Slow Food Nation San Francisco 2008
As a coffee curator for the Slow Food Nation taste pavilion, working alongside an awesome all-volunteer coffee pro all-star team, Tonx designed an experience that served nearly 10,000 guided tastings over a single intense weekend. It pushed a message about quality and flavor that was farmer-focused rather than about brewing devices, brand fetishism, or precision palate pretenses. It was also a sort of coming out party for the wider acceptance of single origin espresso.
SQIRL/G&B Coffee Los Angeles 2013
In their earliest incarnations, Jessica Koslow’s now-renowned laboratory of California cuisine (SQIRL) and Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski’s Los Angeles coffee shop empire (G&B/Go Get Em Tiger) shared humble beginnings under one roof inside Jessica’s modest jam-making kitchen. Sumi was employee number one, welcoming in curious neighbors and in-the-know foodies who snuck into this small shop for great coffee and trend-setting toast. G&B went on to inspire many multi-roaster coffee shops in it’s mould, eventually relocating to become the keystone of L.A.’s reimagined Grand Central Market (where Sumi continued to be everybody’s favorite barista). SQIRL remains the essential foodie destination and the hard-to-replicate inspiration for many fine/casual restaurants.
Soul searching Los Angeles 2009
Nomadic coffee consulting. Single, then married, then divorced. Growing mushrooms. Living out of a ’93 Honda Civic. Going on journeys. It was probably less romantic than in Tonx’s hazy recollection. But a big coffee itch remained festering and waiting to be scratched. Leading companies in the coffee industry focused mostly on their baristas, their beverage sales, and their rapid wholesale expansion, and were neglecting the home coffee enthusiasts—the curious connoisseurs and potential champions of good coffee. The implicit message to home consumers was that making a good cup of coffee is really hard, requires expensive tools, and is best left to hobbyists and pros. Total bullshit.
The birth of Tonx Coffee Los Angeles 2011
The itch to build a new kind of coffee company—focused entirely on the home coffee lover—was ready to be scratched. Reluctantly putting his name on the company, Tonx set out with some smart partners and an ever-growing cap table of investors to become the odd but beloved subscription coffee service that spawned many copycats.
Joining forces Los Angeles 2013
In year two, Tonx brought Sumi into the roasting department, to exploit his charm, discerning taste, work ethic, and exceptional mechanical aptitude. Among the many achievements of its mighty three-year run, Tonx Coffee boasted one of the coolest coffee t-shirts ever.
Blue Bottle gets big Oakland 2014
As Tonx Coffee grew, scaling up production while remaining independent became a high-wire act. Joining forces with the deeper-pocketed Bay Area favorite Blue Bottle became an increasingly attractive option. Much of the Tonx Coffee team became Blue Bottle At Home and rode along with their rapid expansion. Sumi went into the green coffee game as an importer with Thrive Farmers. Tonx embarked on another stint of soul searching, fumbled with writing a book, and continued to lament that good coffee remained positioned as the pricey purview of the privileged.
LocoL's $1 cup Watts 2016
Visionary chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson announced their plans to launch the revolutionary restaurant LocoL—an attempt to merge culinary technique, quality, and care for people with the vernacular of fast food. Tonx and Sumi joined early on, building a satellite coffee roasting operation which would become the precursor to YES PLZ. By bringing the coffee operation in-house, they aimed to control costs well enough to offer Third Wave quality at fast food prices. The $1 cups of their blend The Mix and their popular Sweet & Creamy cold coffee made a big splash, upsetting a bunch of colleagues in the coffee industry who felt the bargain pricing and less-than-fancy context devalued great coffee. Though LocoL couldn’t maintain a big enough breakfast business to keep the coffee operation going beyond year one, the experience emboldened Tonx and Sumi to take the next big leap.
Heck Yes, Plz Los Angeles 2018
The culmination of both Tonx and Sumi’s coffee journey—a no-holds-barred, no-corners-cut direct-to-consumer coffee roasting company that aims to restore sanity to your home coffee universe while indulging their own expansive culinary craziness. If you’ve read this far, you really ought to try a box. Every release is unique and tweaked to be the best it can be, offered at a price that makes it easy to say “Yes Plz!”