Some Beans, a Moose, and How We Got Here
Up until a dozen or so years ago, I didn’t even drink coffee. Didn't like it, didn't drink it — let alone roast it. Never wanted it in school or college. Tried the proverbial spoon-eating office brew a couple times at work and I don’t remember ever finishing those cups.
But back in the late 2000s, some friends of mine put a coffee bar inside their cigar shop. And being true to the style of their shop, they kept it neat, classic, and simple with a French press and a little espresso machine. Nice as all that was, the really big draw was the coffee beans they used. Fresh-roasted Guatemala, Kenyan, Sumatran, etc.
So I give it another go. Because he says the Sumatran arrived earlier that morning and it’ll pair nicely with that cigar you’ve already got going and... well... he was right. It was delicious.
A couple of years go by and I meet some fun folks through this same cigar/coffee shop. By way of some of them, I wind up meeting Hector and Cassie when they’re doing some off-site events for their Two Rivers coffee shop. I saw Hector at two or three events before I made it down to their coffee shop and he shows me the Aeropress.
“Hector, isn’t Aerobie the frisbee guy?”
“Sure is, bro! But this makes way better coffee than a frisbee.”
Indeed it does. So I get the Aeropress because it makes a good single cup of coffee. And it fits conveniently with the rest of the gear I packed for a trip down to Somerset to see the college buddies a weekend or two before Christmas. My one friend, Driver, got a kick out of the Aeropress and asked if roasted my own coffee.
“Wait, what? You can roast coffee yourself?”
So down the rabbit hole we go with that conversation, and within 3 weeks I’ve managed to try three of the simplest home-roasting methods before settling on a sturdy little pot and wooden spoon. Not the most efficient use of stovetop heat, but it worked. And it was delicious. Made the house smell good too.
Later that year, I got a Whirley Popper — yes, it’s actually a stovetop popcorn popper — and it made the roasts way more consistent because it had a lid and better stirring. With the new toy to make it easier, I started trying out a wider variety of coffees and was having pretty good success with getting the preferred flavor profiles.
Almost a year after my friend talked me into roasting coffee at home, I’d gotten into the habit of going down to the Two Rivers Artisan coffee shop and telling Hector about whatever cool coffee beans I’d roasted in last couple of weeks. Kenyan, Ethiopian, Honduran, and so on. To which he finally said, “You roast it, I'll brew it.”
This made for some amusing Saturdays because I’d usually alternate between roasting something “normal” and then the craziest stuff I could get my hands on. (Pretty sure one was easier to spell than pronounce.) Around this time, Hector asked if I’d ever considered roasting professionally because some things fell into place (namely a roasting machine) for us to have the chance to start our own coffee roasting company.
So a handful of us did just that. In March 2015, it was official, and Hope Roasting Co. was created. We’ve grown and tried a lot of new things since then, but we still have a great time making fresh-roasted coffee.