Happy 2019! As we embark on a new year, I thought it would be fitting to talk about new beginnings, specifically how Talking Crow began.
Sitting over a cup of our morning coffee, Eric and I were thinking about a “retire to” career - something that the two of us could work at together and also bring the kids alongside us too, if they wanted. Eric thought coffee roasting was fascinating and it sounded pretty intriguing to me too. We decided to take classes offered by Specialty Coffee Association so that we could learn as much as we could. The classes were offered at the Swiss Water Process plant in Burnaby, Canada, which lucky for us, is a very doable drive away. We were immersed in coffee information from “seed to cup” as they say. Growing, farming, harvesting, processing, exporting, importing, roasting, and brewing - A LOT OF INFORMATION!
What to do with all that information? You take a big, extensive test to become certified. And that’s what we did. There are always more classes to take and more certifications available, but with this accomplishment under our belt, we thought it was time to put our knowledge into practice, but first, we would need a place to roast. We wanted our business to be on our property. Going back and forth with our local county about the different regulations and restrictions, our plans, and changes to our plans, we finally were able to put a structure on our property. Our family worked together clearing the space, digging trenches for power and water, and covering over those trenches once inspections were passed and signed off. It was pretty much an every-weekend-throughout-the-summer project to ready the space for the structure. The following summer we focused on the building itself. It was a lot of physical labor. Up early, finishing late, tired and dirty was our reality, but you know… it was so worth it.
In the off months between summers we sample roasted so that we could get hands-on experience and begin developing roast profiles that we liked. We purchased an Ikawa which roasts just 50 g of coffee at a time. We attended trade shows which gave us great information from the workshops and great connections with so many people throughout the industry. We also worked on branding, package and website design. We had to make good use of those cold and rainy days.
We definitely experienced some hiccups all throughout this journey, but the biggest challenge came shortly after the start of the new year in 2018, when our plans came to an abrupt halt as our daughter Hannah, who is our social media manager, was in a near fatal car wreck. Airlifted to the hospital, she spent a month there before being released. It wasn’t until the spring that we resumed work on our roaster amidst lots of doctor and therapy appointments. You’ll be happy to know that she continues to heal.
Once the structure was complete (and all the agencies signed off on our permits) we ordered our roaster. It was custom built for us by ASHE Industries. We chose a fluid bed roaster, also known as an air roaster for a couple of reasons. Drum roasters run on gas, either natural or propane. Because of where we are located, our only option is propane - and that isn’t ideal. Propane is not only expensive, but it could introduce hydrocarbons which could flavor the roasted coffee. No one wants expensive, bad coffee! Air roasting is an inexpensive, clean fuel source which allows us to minimize our carbon footprint. We like that.
The last hurdle was to get approval by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. They came out and inspected our building, our processing, our labeling, our cleaning, etc., etc., etc. Just a little stressful, but seeing the form with APPROVED on it was like the “thrill of victory”!
During our time of taking classes at the Swiss Water Process plant, we also learned a lot about decaffeination processes. Theirs is a proprietary chemical-free method using osmosis that removes 99.9% caffeine while reincorporating all the other coffee components that give it its wonderful flavor producing, as they say, “amazing coffee without caffeine.” This really caught my attention since I had suffered from extreme adrenal fatigue for a few years and had to switch to drinking only decaf. Furthering my new “obsession” was discovering that most coffee shops only offer one choice for decaf. Well, I want choices, and I bet I am not alone! This became the catalyst for our business model – coffee is for everyone, caffeine isn’t. Whether you drink regular all the time, switch to decaf in the afternoon, or like me, must only drink decaf, I want you to enjoy your coffee all the time. In a nut shell…All day. Every day. Coffee you love. So even though we roast both regular and decaf, we are focusing on decaf.
We are small batch roasters which means just that, we roast small amounts (up to 60 lbs. in an hour) which enables us to ensure quality and consistency. We roast to order providing the freshest coffee possible for our customers.
As we grow, we plan to take coffee-origin trips to meet the growers at their farms and establish friendship/partnership relationships.
We hope you’ll try our coffee and be convinced that decaf CAN taste just as good as regular and since we roast both – you can try both to know for sure. ;-)