Finding a Way - Step 5 of Farm to Cup
The fifth and final step of farm to cup requires the most precision. One tiny error can lead to a horrible cup of coffee, but on the flip side of the coin, if you can perfect it, your coffee will be second to none.
Step 5: Roasting
This step will be told through the eyes of our founder, Shane Buerster.
When our first 4,000 pounds of beans arrived to The States, I had no idea how I was going to roast. The concept itself seems rather simple - find something that is really hot - toss the beans in - let them cook - then, when they are dark, pull them out.
So, this is what we did. The Mercer Innovation Center, where we have built our wholesale business for the last year and a half, had a popcorn popper. We started using that popcorn popper to roast our beans, 13oz at a time (which would leave us with 11ounces - hence, the 11oz bags). Was this the absolute best way to roast coffee beans? Absolutely not. However, this helped us bridge a gap. It allowed us to stay alive.
That is until December of 2017 when my parents bought me a chicken rotisserie roaster. After countless modifications, My dad and I got the roaster to roast 7 pounds of coffee at a time. The chicken rotisserie roaster wasn't the best method, but it produced a quality roast that many people enjoyed.
As we continued to grow, we had to find ways to increase our roasting capacity.
In April of 2018, I was introduced to Brian Holland, the founder of Phoenix Coffee Roasters. Brian and I talked about the vocation of each of our businesses, and it lined up perfectly. The very next day, after talking with Brian on the phone, I take 100 pounds of coffee up to their facility. Wes Patterson, the master roaster at Phoenix Coffee, roasts the 100 pounds. While roasting, Wes and I begin talking about the art of the process. I told him about my two previous methods, and he tells me about all of the knowledge he has learned from one of the greatest Latin American roasters of all time, a guy who has won countless awards for his abilities. While you'd think Wes and everyone at Phoenix Roasters would keep their 'roasting secrets' to themselves, it's the exact opposite. Wes immediately began teaching me every step of the roasting cycle. That way, when Z Beans can afford our own large roaster, I'll have the skill set.
Since meeting Wes, Brian, and the entire crew at Phoenix Coffee Roasters, we have formed a unique partnership. Initially, we would take 100 pounds up to them every other week to roast. Now, we are taking 300 pounds. Their unmatched roasting ability has created consistency that I've never been able to replicate before. Meeting them was a blessing for which I'll forever be grateful.
Back to the steps:
Now, we have our roasted beans. We've made the three hour round trip from Macon to Atlanta and back.
Whether it's you at your home or us at the coffee shop, the beans, from 5,000 miles away, are eventually ground down and brewed with hot water.
It's awesome to consider just how impactful a cup of coffee can be. From a coffee plantation in Ecuador to your cup, there are countless friendships cemented, memories created, and opportunities birthed.
We challenge you to always know the hardworking individuals behind your cups of coffee. As we hope our farm to cup series has showed, it's possible to know exactly who your farmer is. However, it takes time, effort, and hard work from all individuals involved.
We hope you have enjoyed the series!
For the other four steps, you may find them here: