Chippewa Roasters Keep it Fresh

Jake Johnston, photos by Madisyn Kephart

I’m here today to talk to you about drugs. Namely: caffeine. Specifically: coffee.

Have you heard of coffee? Did you drink some this morning? Probably. Do not worry. You and I are among hundreds of millions of people globally who do. We are talking about one of the most consumed beverages ever.

A Coffee bean is the seed of a fruit from the Coffee plant, and must be roasted to unlock its potential. Once roasted, the bean continues its chemical transformation for up to 10 days. After that, it starts dying and begins to lose potency, flavor, and viability. After 4 weeks, it is all but useless. The Washington Post reported that only 8% of coffee in the USA is fresh whole bean. This suggests that most of the coffee for sale is completely dead, stale, and very sad.

The Solution? Locally roasted, fresh coffee beans. The difference in taste and smell between something roasted yesterday and some months-old generic pre-ground is so great, one may as well be comparing the sensation of running through an open field to sitting inside of an office with no windows.

The Chippewa Valley is home to several roasters who love to share their passion and product with Thee Valley. Buying locally roasted coffee can ensure a fresh, potent brew every time.

Soul Brewed

While it has not been scientifically proven that soul is in this coffee, the love that goes into making it is palpable. Soul Brewed specializes in beans and cold brew from Africa, but has also recently released a Guatemalan variety. The seeds originate from a family-focused co-op by the name of Gerbicho Lela.

Immediately, the freshness hits, and the variety of discernable flavors really makes this one pop. Chocolaty, mellow citrus and floral notes ensure a soul-filling experience.

Master Roaster Troy Hoyt is in love with the roasting process, which takes total focus and serene passion. Troy and his partner Eliana own and operate this venture, usually roasting 6 days a week. The Soul Crew utilizes a roaster with a maximum capacity of 2.5 kilos (5.5 pounds). This affords the option to create smaller batches with more care.

The primary mission of the soul crew is to get sensational coffee into the hands of people who want exactly that, sensational coffee.

Honest Roast

Founder and Master Roaster Matt Schwahn has been working with coffee professionally for 12 years. Since mastering the art and science of the roast, Matt has focused on putting devotion and emotion into delivering a variety of fresh coffee roasts to the Valley. Matt doesn’t have a favorite, insisting that variety is the spice to life. He would rather try a completely new coffee every day.

Honest Roast features space-age containers that utilize a one-way airlock and a resealable spout.

Honest Roast’s Beach Vibes is an organic bean from Mexico that is perfectly light roasted. After each and every sip it sinks in further, a thoroughly dynamic flavor. It is soft, yet well-defined ¬– Invigorating, and also savory.

You can find this bean freshly delivered to Just Local Foods, Avalon Floral, Rump’s Butcher Shoppe or in person at Northbound Supply co. On North Barstow Street. Honest Roast itself hosts familiar favorites and weekly specials. There you can find a special Irish Coffee blend. This comes in a glass bottle and is soaked in Irish whiskey before roasting, which leaves it with delicate notes, the most decadent coffee you may ever try.

Raw Deal

It’s the Real Deal down at the Raw Deal. Before walking in you may notice coffee beans being roasted in the front window. Once inside, the atmosphere and spaciousness facilitate a wave of natural relaxation. Five living, breathing, coffee plants greet you as they tower over the roaster.

This mom-and-pop shop features organic coffees freshly roasted in-house. Pop is an engineer by trade and roasts in precise 6lb batches most days of the week. Mom is a certified raw food chef who uses only the best and freshest ingredients. The engineer admits to being a coffee purist and works hard to ensure that each roast style compliments the characteristics of the varying seeds.

People concerned about freshness can buy smaller quantities of coffee more frequently. And if buying in lower quantities, you can try more varieties. Although not explicitly advertised, you can ask your barista at Raw Deal for a flight of coffee to sample and find your favorite.

Their coffee containers keep it real by being 100% compostable. Once you have enjoyed your share of coffee, fill the empty coffee bag with used coffee grounds and toss it into the compost pile.

The Raw Deal coffee is available on location in Menomonie and beans are freshly delivered to Just Local Foods Co-Operative. Check out The Raw Deal at the Winters Farmers Market every Saturday now through April, 9am-1pm.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee Grounds is an exquisite coffee establishment with delicious beverages aplenty. While the shop features several master roasters, I caught up with Coffee Master Chef Colin Carey during one of his legendary roasting sessions. Colin also presides over the Eau Claire Coffee Club and has all but written the book on coffee. You can catch him most Wednesdays mid-morning at The Coffee Grounds with a standing offer to field some of your caffeine-related curiosities.

The Coffee Grounds produces tons of coffee every year, all roasted and served in-house or freshly delivered to local high-quantity using organizations.

Everyone interviewed at TCG admitted to preferring their coffee black, a testament to the quality. Guatemalan is one of the biggest sellers, but it’s possible to fall in love with the Colombian roast; vibrant, yet earthy. It promises to be a real source of jungle energy.

They serve more than one variety from Ethiopia. With dozens of varieties available, there is something for everyone at The Coffee Grounds.

All of these roasters put effort into sourcing the seeds directly from the farmer. If not, practicality all of the others are fair trade and organic: check the packaging if you’re unsure.