Phoenix Coffee Roasters
Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
I'm leaving for Peru and Ecuador in a week. My mom picks me up from Mercer, and we head for Greenville, South Carolina. I need a vaccine and an updated yellow book to enter Ecuador. Thankfully, my mom handled the logistics, as she always has, so all I had to do was hop in the car.
"How's it going? Is Carter and Ben going to be able to take care of everything while you're gone?"
"They can. But I'm really worried about roasting. The chicken rotisserie roaster is on its last leg, and I don't know what we'd do if it were to go out."
"Do you not have another option?"
Two weeks prior, Bob Easter, my mentor, friend, and Z Beans investor, met Brian Holland, the founder of Phoenix Roasters. Bob told Brian, a Mercer Alumni, about Z Beans, and he expressed interest in speaking with me. So, Mr. Easter gave me his number and said I should give him a call sometime.
I tell my mother:
"Well, Mr. Easter gave me a contact in Atlanta that I could try and call. Perhaps they could roast a big batch before I leave."
"This is Brian."
"Hey, Brian. My name is Shane Buerster, and I am with Z Beans Coffee. Mr. Bob Easter gave me your contact information and said I should give you a call sometime."
"Awesome, Shane! It's great to speak with you."
"Is there anyway I can stop by your roasting facility and meet you all Thursday? Also, do you think it'd be possible to roast some beans as well?"
"Yea, absolutely! How many pounds do you need roasted?"
"Well, could we do 200?"
"No problem at all!"
"Well, Mom - I think I'll have enough roasted beans!"
On Thursday, I left Macon to make the first trip to Atlanta. I visited with Brian and his fellow Pastors, learning about their incredible brand. I learned about their vocation - to empower under resourced families and bring dignified relief. I heard their stories - the story of their Probat coffee roaster - the story of their personal sacrifice.
I admired all of them and greatly respected their work.
After talking, Wes, Phoenix's Roastmaster, roasted the 200 pounds of beans for me. While roasting, Wes told me the stories of Javier Pitti - the man who taught Wes how to roast - a man that was one of - if not the - greatest coffee roaster in the world. While roasting, Wes told me the exact roast profile Javier Pitti taught him. Wes hid nothing - he was an open book. This was far different than what I had ever experienced before. I had been to many other coffee roasters, and I always felt as if their roast methods were trade secrets - no one would share tips. But, not Wes - he told me so much that I knew there was no way I would remember it all.
3 hours later - Wes finishes roasting. We exchange numbers, and I head back to Macon with a bunch of roasted beans.
Nearly a month later, we have run out of roasted beans, but I am in Ecuador - 5,000 miles away. Ben shoots me a text, "Shane, what should I do about roasting coffee?"
Immediately, I think of Phoenix. So, I send Brian a text.
"Brian, would one of my guys be able to bring some coffee to you all for toll roasting?"
"We are available for toll roasting next week!"
Like that, a partnership formed.
For the past 9 months, Ben or I have traveled to Phoenix Coffee Roasters in Atlanta to have our coffee roasted every Monday. Phoenix's consistency and dependability allowed us to take big steps as a company. While the popcorn popper (13oz per hour) and the chicken rotisserie roaster (7lbs per hour) helped us sustain our hobby, Phoenix allowed us to turn Z Beans into a business.
Now, to tell you solely of the business partnership would be doing a disservice to the impact Phoenix has had upon us - upon me.
Through those hours Wes and I have spent roasting together, we've talked about far more than just roast profiles. We've talked about God - about service - about sacrifice.
Brian, every morning, does a Facebook Live. He speaks about current topics and how they relate to scripture. In one of his talks, the central message was: "The greatest sign of ownership is sacrifice."
That message has always stuck with me. That message has helped me push forward in my own pursuit of building a sustainable business that enables sustainability for farmers throughout Ecuador.
February 17, 2019.
We are only a few weeks away from having our own roaster roasting away in the basement, as this is an important step for our long-term goal of sustainability. But, I will forever be grateful for all that Phoenix has done for us. They not only showed us how a coffee company should be built but how life should be lived. For that, we are grateful.
Thank you Brian and Wes.
Thank you to everyone at Phoenix for guiding us in the right direction!