The story so far...

The story of Ross Street Roasting Co. is pretty easy to tell. After all, I just came up with the name last week! But I'll try to give a good account of it the story thus far...

A little over a year ago I was on a road trip with Mennonite pastor and home-roaster, Phil Kniss, who runs Phil's Just Java out of his house in Virginia. Phil was my pastor and neighbor at the time and on this particular road trip, we were driving through the night from Harrisonburg, VA, to Chicago for a church conference. I was driving and Phil was up front with me.

After the initial excitement and chatter from the rest of the guys in the van died down, everyone in back eventually went to sleep and the van became very quiet. I believe it was just as we crossed the Potomac River north of Berkeley Springs, WV, getting onto I-68 headed west that I inquired, "So Phil...tell me about this coffee roasting thing you do..."

Over the next few hours, Phil walked me through the entire process and then some. It wasn't only for the sake of keeping my brain engaged in the wee hours of the morning; I was genuinely interested in the home-roasting phenomenon that Phil and a number of other folks I knew in Harrisonburg were practicing. I loved good coffee, and this seemed like a logical and fun next step for me.

Shortly after that trip I moved from Virginia back to my home state of Iowa, to the little town of Toledo, where my wife grew up. This past Christmas was our second one back home in Iowa and I decided that instead of standard presents for friends and family, I wanted to start this coffee roasting thing and give my own fresh-roasted coffee as gifts. So I bought a $20 West Bend Air Crazy hot-air popcorn popper from our local ShopKo, four pounds of green coffee from Phil back in Virginia, and I was off. Just as I'd anticipated, I loved it!

Now a mere two months later, I've roasted through nearly 20 pounds of green coffee, upgraded to the "heat gun/bread machine" roasting method, and started selling great coffee to friends here in Toledo. Last week I put up a Facebook page with the name: Ross Street Roasting Co. (and a Twitter account).

Why Ross Street? - Ross is a main east/west road through Toledo, and our backyard runs up to it, and we have a second garage that sits facing Ross. While I roast in our basement for now, the "back garage" will eventually become the home of roasting ops! (The roasting process produces smelly smoke that my family is understandably not a fan of...)

Though I am most certainly an amateur at this, I'm interested in seeing where this delicious and caffeinated journey takes me here, a coffee roaster in a little Iowa farm town.

I'll say more in coming posts about my guiding ethos in this venture, an ethos which I picked up from my supplier, Phil Kniss at Phil's Just Java: a commitment to good coffee (organic, fair trade) that is good for the people who grow and harvest the coffee, and whose agricultural practices are kind to the earth which produces this wonderful little fruit. All to bring a good and fresh product to the people on Toledo, Tama, and surrounding communities.

So for now, that's the brief story of how this little project came to be!
Posted on February 26, 2014 .