Camp House: Home of the coffee perfectionists

Camp House: Home of the coffee perfectionists

June 26th, 2012 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

Aaron Rauch, left, and Matt Busby run the Southside coffee shop The Camp House. Rausch manages the coffee side of the business, while Busby is the venue's social media and marketing director, focusing on music.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.


Age: 27.

Family: Wife, Amber, and son, Theodore, 10 months.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in history from University of Central Arkansas, Conway.

Hometown: Mountain Home, Ark.


Age: 29.

Family: Wife, Sara.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Nyack (N.Y.) College.

Hometown: Lima, Ohio.


Favorite movies: "The Dark Knight" (Busby) / "Star Wars -- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" (Rauch)

Favorite books: "Tigana" by Guy Gavriel Kay (Busby) / "Dune" by Frank Herbert and "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman (Rauch)

Favorite musicians: Derek Webb and Ray LaMontagne (Busby) / The Roots and Sigur Ros (Rauch)

How they each take their coffee: Black (both)


Address: 1427 Williams St.

Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday.


Phone: 702-8081.


To Aaron Rauch and Matt Busby, there are few things in life as rewarding as striving to make the perfect cup of coffee, except perhaps the community attracted by that quest for the ideal brew.

A mutual love of java and coffeehouse culture brought both men to the Southside about two years ago -- Busby from Florida and Rauch from New York.

Since then, they have managed the growth of The Camp House, a coffee bar run by The Mission Chattanooga, an offshoot of the Anglican church. In addition to serving premium coffee and hosting worship services on Sunday, The Camp House also is the home of a nonprofit vintage/thrift store and has become a hotspot for live music.

Rauch manages Camp House Espresso, making all coffee-related decisions for the business, from choosing the roasts to use to training the baristas in techniques such as pressure-profiling and how to pull the best espresso shot.

Busby serves as the venue's social media and marketing director and has established The Camp House as a live music hub with an open-mike night and weekly performances by bluegrass, classical and folk artists.

Despite their differing roles, both men said they see themselves as pursuing the same goal of providing a worthy home in Chattanooga for great coffee and even better culture.

Q: How did The Camp House end up in the Southside?

Rauch: That was the decision of our boss, Chris Sorensen, who is the vicar of The Mission Chattanooga. He looked at other areas and decided they weren't right. Eventually, he found a place in the Southside. He walked in our building, saw the surrounding neighborhood and how much potential it had, how people were already talking about the neighborhood. He could tell it would be the next hotspot.

Q: Was he right? What are your thoughts about the revitalization of the area in recent years?

Busby: It's been phenomenal. It really seems to be the center of entrepreneurial culture in Chattanooga and a center for people like us who are transplants to Chattanooga.

Rauch: I'm amazed to see the amount of really brilliant people there. It's a really, really, really exciting place to be. It's the wonderful center of a whirling storm of brilliant minds, interesting ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. There's just such an insanely creative energy. It's almost an art form of entrepreneurism.

Q: What role do you want The Camp House to play in the local music and arts community?

Busby: My philosophy with The Camp House is that God is [found in] honoring good culture. That doesn't mean Christian subculture; it means good culture. That's the philosophy behind booking the music and the events we do -- to build good culture.

Q: How do you respond to people who say "A cup of coffee is a cup of coffee. Why fuss over things like shot-pulling and pressure-profiling?"

Rauch: On one end, taste is subjective; people have different preferences. If you can just survive on a nice cup of diner coffee that's been sitting on the burner for six hours, that's fine. But if you taste coffee and are passionate about what you taste and you want to know more, The Camp House is where you want to come because you will be among like-minded people.

Q: With The Camp House serving so many functions, who do you see as your primary audience?

Busby: The vast majority of our customers are people who have moved to Chattanooga in the last five years. Chattanooga has plenty of coffee shops, but with the coffee culture that we're building, it's people who come from outside of Chattanooga who recognize what we're doing and want to support us.

Rauch: It seems like our audience is our neighbors. One of the most beautiful things about it and the most enjoyable thing about working at The Camp House is the pure diversity of it. We have many streams in the Camp House, [and] each has its own community.

Q: What's next for The Camp House?

Busby: We're a young business, so we want to keep pushing forward. Our venue side is very much a listening room, and we want to stay as a listening room, but we want to be on the level of Eddie's Attic in Decatur, Ga., or The Grey Eagle in Asheville, N.C.

Rauch: We're going to continue doing what we're doing, which is always trying to find the highest-quality coffee we can find and always attempting to better ourselves as coffee professionals. There's so much exploration going on as far as what is the best way to brew coffee, and we'll continue doing that ourselves.