From his early days on the original Forum 8 through the Robotfood movie days and into the present ripping pow at Mt. Baker and in Alaska with People and Absinthe, Finnish pro Wille Yli-Luoma has always exuded passion and power. He has always taken his own path. And now, as an enviable pro career winds down for Wille, he has started something new. Last year Wille opened Heart Roasters, a coffee roasting and café business in Portland. Right now, he’s doing double-duty as a roaster and rider and proving that the (almost) post-pro path can be whatever one makes of it.
So did you retire from pro shredding or what? No, I still go on trips. I like snowboarding too much to retire at this point. Maybe people think I’m done because I own a business, but it’s just my hobby …
So you're filming and shooting? I was filming with Gigi for his new video, but I dislocated my shoulder 3 weeks ago so, now I'm in physical therapy.
How is the coffee roasting biz? Roasting business is good.
At Heart Roasters are you a 1-man show? I’m the sole owner and no one else is backing me. I have 8 employees that keep that place running.
Where is it located? 2211 E. Burnside Portland, OR 97214
Do you think being a pro shredder helped you understand business better? A little, I think I saw so many business models and what worked and what did not. It's a pretty different business though.
Where have you been riding lately? Canada and Jackson.
What are your plans for growing your brand? Hhhmmm, small for now but I have been looking at other spaces for a second location.
Do you get a lot of the shred community in Portland visiting your café? Not really, I mean my close friends, but that’s about it. Every now and then I see some kid looking and then they finally ask if I snowboard and you know … I like being in a different industry, I did not start this to stay in “the snowboard scene”
How soon before we can buy heart beans in the market? As soon as I build a huge roasting facillity and get my importing license and own a few coffee farms. So, not anytime soon.
Have your sponsors been supportive of this transition out of the pro riding? Yes, Volcom put my shop logo in a Volcom ad, so pretty much the sponsors I have right now are helping me out big time but I did get cut from my boot and shoe company.
Do you have any new plans for other businesses in mind? Always plans, but now my funds are a little dry. Haha. But I’m not in this for money, I truly love coffee.
All Images: AndyWrightPhoto.com