Diaries of an Aspiring Specialty Coffee Roaster: The Journey From Their Farm to Our Cup

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So we were pretty stoked about the final results of roasting those last five pounds of organic, fair trade Peruvian coffee from the “El Palto” co-op in the Amazonian Andes of Peru. The farm our batch came from was owned by Mercedes Carranza Montenegro and the beans supposedly exuded notes of lemon and toffy with a clean nutty finish (thanks for the description Coffee Bean Corral). My completely unrefined pallet liked the coffee, but I like pretty much all coffee so I’m typically not the best judge of these things. Hopefully after a few more podcasts and a lot more coffee roasting and drinking I’ll get a little better. I feel like in order to run a successful craft coffee roasting business, you must, first and foremost be passionate, but also become an expert in the field. This means from the plant itself and various varieties (there are over 120 different plant species of the genus Coffea, but Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora or Robusta are the major two commercially coffee grown plant species) to processing, packaging, shipping, storage, roasting, cupping, brewing and consuming.

Riding my bike to work each morning (I work part-time at the local Middle School here in San Clemente) has helped to fuel this desire to learn more and more about coffee. I can throw in my new knock-off earbuds and listen to informative podcasts from the Specialty Coffee Association and other much more knowledgable coffee aficionados. For years now, I’ve slowly become more and more enamored with organic food, where it comes from and what it does for our mind, body and spirit. Just now though, I feel like I’m really making this same connection with coffee. The coffee we drink is the result of roasting and brewing the seed (a coffee bean isn’t actually a bean) of a real fruit tree. It is harvested and processed by real farmers on real farms. The coffee is eventually packaged and shipped on real boats (it’s sent other ways too, but this is the most common) to real coffee roasters and eventually brewed by real baristas (you’re one too if you’ve ever brewed coffee!). Each cup of coffee touches so many different lives and I feel like this is what makes coffee such a special thing. It provides a platform to transforms lives.

The genuine excitement about craft coffee roasting and the positive impact it can have led us to our most recent coffee purchase. We bought five pounds of organic green coffee beans grown on the 18 Rabbit Farms in the municipality of Marcala in Honduras. These farms are owned by Senora Flhor, her mom and eleven other extended and immediate family members. In total, there are thirteen different farms and each are separated into microlots. Microlots (we didn’t know before what they were before this most recent purchase) are small lots that produce anywhere from five to one hundred bags of coffee each harvest. In order to be considered a microlot, the coffee must receive a cupping score of 85 or higher. But what exactly is cupping (we also didn’t know this until very recently)? Cupping is a tasting technique commonly used in industry to “grade” roasted and brewed coffee based on taste and aroma. “Q” Graders officially score coffee much like sommeliers (they even take a fancy test) in the wine industry, but “Q” graders aren’t the only people to cup coffee. Anyone can do it, and numerous specialty coffee roasters do this often to ensure optimal quality. We’ve never tried cupping coffee, but we’re eager to give it a go because it looks pretty fascinating and even kind of fun. People put soup spoons in small cups full of hot coffee and then loudly slurp it up. The reason behind cupping lies in the fact that coffee can taste so drastically different based on brewing methods, grind settings, water temperature, water to coffee ratios and the list goes on. Cupping is an effort by the specialty coffee industry to create a universal system for scoring coffee. The method of brewing is quite simple (all you need is coffee, a scale, a grinder and hot water) and a score card (found online through the Specialty Coffee Association). Senora Flhor and her family are paid more than 300% higher wages than Fair Trade because of these consistently high cupping scores in addition to her farm’s dedicated use of exceptional organic farming methods. We dig cupping and the high cupping scores, but that three hundred percent higher wages than Fair Trade stat was definitely the ringer. Because of this, we wanted to dig deeper on what exactly that meant since we didn’t buy that coffee directly from Senora Flhor and I’m honestly not sure how much she made on the coffee and how the money was allocated.

Here’s what we found out. The price of coffee is determined several ways and is literally changing every minute because it is viewed and traded as a commodity. It is traded on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in New York City. As is common in publicly traded exchanges, the price is dependent on supply and demand. Unfortunately, this system has its flaws and coffee farmers, when paid the “C” price or determined by the Intercontinental Exchange, are often unable to cover even their basic expenses. In effect, they can and do lose money on their crop. The Fair Trade program strives to right this wrong by setting a minimum price a farmer can be paid per pound for their coffee. If a coffee farmer is paid Fair Trade price for their coffee, this typically means they have been paid a significant amount more for their coffee. For example, in February of 2018 the “C” price of coffee was around $1.24, but the Fair Trade price was closer to $1.60. Following this data’s trail, we feel really good about Senora Flhor and her family being paid three hundred percent more than the Fair Trade price. Hypothetically that would be $4.80 compared to the $1.60 Fair Trade and $1.24 “C” prices in the aforementioned scenario. We’re not sure exactly what the working conditions on these farms is like or how that money is allocated (Is it given directly to Senora Fhlor and then she divides it among staff?), but we feel confident that based on what we do know about this coffee the farmers and land are being very well taken care of and at the end of the day that’s what will always matter most to us.

The higher wages and organic farming practices weren’t the only thing that got us excited about this new coffee. We were eager to try this coffee because it was processed using the black honey natural method (we thought it sounded pretty cool). But much like cupping and commodity market pricing, we didn’t really know what this meant so we decided to do a little more research. As I mentioned earlier, after the coffee cherry (a coffee cherry is what we call the fruit that grows on the coffee plant) is picked off the tree it must be processed before it is packaged and shipped. There are essentially four different methods used to do this: washed, natural, honey/pulp natural (technically 2 different methods, but very similar) and semi-washed/wet hulled. Often times, these techniques are chosen based on external environmental factors. For example, if a farm is located in an area where water is scarce and/or polluted, the farmer would take this into account when choosing his/her processing method. With this in mind, they are all very different processes and result in very different flavors. I’ll do my best to briefly explain all of the differences. Again, all coffee cherries must be picked and sorted. The goal is to pick only ripe fruit which can be tricky because it all ripens at different times even on the same tree and same branch. Many specialty coffees are picked and sorted by hand for this reason (elevation and the inability to get machinery on the steep hills coffee is grown on also plays into this). Once the coffee is harvested, it can then be processed. Washed processing means that the coffee fruit is ran through a mechanical mill immediately after it’s harvested in order to remove the skin and fruit inside. A layer of mucilage, parchment and silver skin remains on the coffee after going through the mill. The layer of mucilage is removed by placing the coffee beans into a vat of water for twelve to seventy two hours where microbes aid fermentation which consumes and removes this layer of mucilage. Once complete, the beans are rinsed in another vat of clean water and then dried under the sun on raised beds (it can also be done with a heating machine) to a moisture content of ten to twelve percent. This means they’re dry enough to be stored without rotting or developing mold. The beans are not immediately shipped after processing, but instead rested for thirty to sixty days (there isn’t too much research about what chemically happens during this, but it’s said to improve the flavor of the beans) . Days or hours before they are shipped and exported, the remaining parchment layer is taken off leaving just the silver skin on the coffee bean. This process is called hulling and is typically done mechanically through a dry mill. The coffee is then sorted again to remove any defective beans, and then packaged in bags (Jute bags are the most commonly used bags in shipping and storage and you probably would recognize them as they look a little like burlap sacks…they are awesome in that they have a very low environmental impact but aren’t that effective at keeping out moisture and heat so some new bags are being tested). The packaged coffee is next placed in shipping containers and shipped all over the globe. Keep in mind most coffee is consumed in the United States and Europe but grown elsewhere. The problem with this step is that the shipping containers also aren’t all that effective at keeping out heat and moisture and the ships can be held up in port for a variety of reasons for weeks and even months at a time. Once the coffee finally arrives to the roaster and is roasted, that last silver skin layer or chaff comes off (most of this happens while the coffee is roasting). The resulting flavor of this coffee processed using the washed method can be described by as lively, clean and acidic. Natural or Sun-Dried processing is similar to washed in many ways, but there is one major difference. The difference happens almost immediately after the coffee is picked and sorted. Instead of placing the coffee in a mechanical mill as is done in the washed method, the whole coffee fruit is laid out in the sun to dry much like raisins would be. Once dried, the skin and fruit are removed in a mechanical mill and the steps throughout the remainder of the process are the same as for washed processing. The flavor of natural processed coffee can be described as fruity and bold with wine like qualities. Honey/pulp natural processing is a bit of a combination of washed and natural processing. The process begins like washed processing in that the fruit is picked, sorted and ran through a mechanical mill to remove the skin and fruit inside. But unlike washed where the mucilage is removed through fermentation, the coffee is dried with the mucilage layer still intact (black honey natural like our batch from Senora Fhlor means that it is dried longer than normal under tarps using indirect sunlight). This gives honey/pulp natural processed coffees a flavor profile that can be described as sweet, subtly fruity and full bodied. The final method, semi-washed/wet hulled processing, also starts similar to the washed processing. The fruit is picked, sorted and ran through a mechanical mill, then placed in a vat of water where fermentation removes the mucilage from the bean then it is rinsed and dried. The major difference is in this drying process. In the semi-washed/wet hulled method, the coffee beans are only partially dried then the parchment layer (taken off just before shipping in all other processing methods) is removed. The beans are then placed back out to dry to the appropriate ten to twelve percent moisture content. This process results in a super unique flavor profile that can be described as woody, green and tobaccoesque. Again, we’re no experts in this field, but from what we’ve learned most in the specialty coffee industry prefer the washed method because of it’s consistency (the others can lead to rotting and mold more easily if specific attention to detail is not applied) and the fact that the processing method itself doesn’t impart too much flavor to the coffee. It allows the natural flavors of the coffee to shine. After learning all of this, we can see why Coffee Bean Corral described the flavor profile as containing notes of green apple and caramel (sweetness and subtly fruitiness often associated with honey natural processing). We’re stoked to cup it and find out for ourselves!

All of this extensive research led us to the discovery that altitude and shade also play major roles into how coffee effects the ecosystem and overall flavor of coffee. As I’m sure you could guess, we decided to dig a little deeper. This batch from 18 Rabbit Farms was grown at 1,400 meters (just under 5,000 ft.) elevation. The high elevation is important because the lack of oxygen at these higher elevations causes the coffee plant to grow more slowly and thus produce a more concentrated, dense and rich coffee bean. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find out if it is shade grown or not. When grown in the shade, coffee plants also develop more slowly and natural sugars further develop in the coffee enhancing the taste even more. The benefits to “shade grown” coffee goes well beyond that of flavor profile. It carries major implications for the coffee industry and the effect it is having on our planet. Rainforests and natural habitats are being destroyed at a rapid rate in part to create coffee farms in an effort to keep up with the increasing demand. Often times, these coffee farms grow hybrids of coffee plants that were developed to grow under direct sunlight and produce higher yields. As a result, sixty percent of the six million acres of coffee farms across the globe have had the majority of their shade trees cut down since the 1970’s and the associated flora, fauna and wildlife have been killed and/or left with no home and no where to go. To us, this is a major problem. We found out that when coffee is grown in the shade, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides aren’t necessary because of this natural biodiversity and the shade trees also help to filter carbon dioxide (a major component of global warming), provide nitrogen to the soil and help with soil moisture retention. Additionally, it preserves the habitat of numerous bird species and prevents the further destruction of our precious rain forests. Again, unfortunately we are not sure if this coffee is grown in the shade, but believe it is more than likely shade grown as as Senora Fhlor has been praised and reward for her organic farming practices. In the future, we’ll definitely pay much more attention to these tiny, but critical details.

Overall, we simply feel so blessed to have the opportunity to stand for positive change in the global marketplace. As specialty coffee roasters, we have the ability to stand up for human rights and ecological justice. We can promote higher wages, fair and equal working conditions and organic farming practices that preserve natural ecosystems rather than destroy wildlife and habitats. This most recent batch from 18 Rabbit Farms is really something special, but all coffee when you really think about it is truly very special. We hope to always use Salty Bean Coffee Co. as a means of providing people with incredible specialty coffee that tells a story worthy of celebrating with every sip.

-Noah (co-owner)

Diaries of an Aspiring Coffee Roaster: The First Batch

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So in case you didn’t know…Paige and I sadly had to part ways with our beloved “Black Pearl” (the van we traveled the United States with for nearly the last 2 years…we spent most of our time in Melbourne, FL which is the sickest place with the coolest people if you’ve never been). While we traveled, we sold and brewed our signature blend, “The Granite Stoke” which was roasted by our friends at Good Vibes Coffee Roasters in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We love Good Vibes (especially Christian, the main roaster and just a really rad guy) and will continue to carry our signature blend, but we figured since we no longer have the pearl it could be time to take our business in a new direction.

The following further details that direction…

From here on out, Salty Bean Coffee Co. will not only be selling organic coffee, but also roasting it up fresh ourselves. The beauty in this is that we will be able to pay attention to every detail of the fascinating and intricate world that is coffee. Truly a farm to cup approach (or as close to that as we can come). Our dream is to work directly with farmers all over the globe to ensure that the land our coffee is grown on never is tainted with chemicals and pesticides and that the men and women who dedicate their lives to growing coffee are paid fair and equal wages. That’s still our goal, but unfortunately it’s just not that simple. So here’s where we decided to start…

We purchased a Behmor 1600 Plus to start roasting our coffee. After a bit of research, it seemed liked the most affordable option that could produce the best and most consistent roasts. YouTube taught us that this roaster works best when roasting coffee to a light/medium roast profile, so that’s what most of our coffee will be for now. Next, we had to figure out where to source our green coffee beans. Like I said earlier, we sadly can’t directly connect with farmers at the moment mainly because we’re just way too small of a business. This left us scouring the web for green coffee importers and retailers that cater to home roasters. For our first order (so far we’ve only placed one order) we went with Coffee Bean Corral. When it comes to choosing coffee, we prioritize environmental impact and working conditions over everything. Don’t get us wrong, we definitely want our coffee to taste good too, but we will never sacrifice our moral obligation to better this planet and people’s lives. This methodology led us to buying five pounds of organic and fair trade certified coffee grown on various farms who all belong to a co-op known by the name, “El Palto,” in the Amazonian Andes of Peru. Our beans came from a lot owned by Mercedes Carranza Montenegro, and we’re so stoked to be able to at least trace our coffee back to one co-op that only grows organic coffee and is fair trade certified. We know fair trade and organic doesn’t necessarily mean that the workers are paid top dollar and the land is treated with the utmost respect, but we figured its a good starting point.

Next, we had to figure out how to roast the coffee in our new baby roaster. It turns out that the Behmor is best suited to roast a half pound of coffee at a time and the best way to roast it is to throw the most heat at it you can and have the drum speed cranked all the way up to get the air flowing (it looks a little like a rotisserie turning inside of a toaster oven). From what I understand (keep in mind all our coffee knowledge comes from YouTube and podcasts) you let the coffee roast until you hear first crack, and the time between first crack and when you stop the roast will determine the roast profile. Once you’ve decided the appropriate time to stop the roast, you turn the roaster off, throw on some silicon gloves and get that piping hot drum out of the machine (pulling the roasted coffee out of this machine is a sight to behold and looks and probably is super sketchy). Once the drum is out you have 4 minutes to cool it to touch, so we pour the coffee from the drum into a metal colander and quickly continue to pour the coffee back and forth between two colanders until it’s not super hot when you touch it. When it’s cool to touch, it means the coffee has stopped cooking (kind of like cookies in the oven from what I understand). After the coffee is cooled, you pour the roasted beans into a bag with a CO2 valve (this keeps it fresh…you want oxygen to stay out, but still want to allow CO2 and other gases that build up to escape), slap a fresh label on it, jot down some notes about the roast and just like you’ve successfully roasted and packaged coffee…in theory.

“In theory” are the key words. So far we’ve roasted 7 half pound batches and they’ve all been a little different. Below you will see a picture of the notes I’ve taken about each roast we’ve tried, and my goal is to upload a new blog for every roast or few roasts detailing the process and results. I obviously didn’t get around to it until now, so I’m hoping my scattered notes do a decent enough job at telling the story of these first few roasts. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and whatever your passion is don’t be afraid to just go for it…even if you have no idea what you’re really doing like us!

-Noah, Co-Owner

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Moms, Babies and Endorphins...Oh My!

We first met Rebekah Joy Coates of Indian Harbour, FL at the Satellite Beach Farmers Market earlier this summer while we were vending with our coffee van, The Black Pearl. Bekah, as the mom of two goes by, was just bursting with joy (which is all too perfect considering her personality and middle name) as she came bouncing up to our serving window with her oh so precious baby girl, Clare, on her hip. As first impressions go, we noticed a few things about Bekah immediately…her smile was infectious, her energy was bright, and let’s be honest…Bekah was incredibly fit.

The former physical education teacher was recruiting us to join her and her club Fit4Mom Space Coast in celebrating their one year anniversary on August 24th, 2018. Fit4Mom is the Nation’s leading pre and postnatal mother support group that emphasizes friendship and fitness to overcome the challenges of motherhood. Bekah is the owner of the Space Coast branch and as we quickly learned, has spread her magic with many families here in Brevard County. In just one short year of existence under Bekah’s leadership, the club has grown to sizeable number of mothers.

One thing that has been of upmost importance to Noah and I here at Salty Bean Coffee Co. is to use our business as a platform to create positive change in the local and global community. It’s beautiful really...the act of people supporting people; the ripple effect created when one person has a dream…

Bekah was glowing, her smile ear to ear, as she shared with us her vision for the celebration… “Families, food, fun, and a free workout! It’s going to be awesome and I know it would be a huge hit for the moms if Salty Bean Coffee was there!” She was full of stoke, there was no way we wouldn’t be there for her.

The morning of the event was all good vibes, how could it not though? We were cruising our van, our dream, to Wickham Park to celebrate an awesome of group of awesome moms with adorable babies! What I did not realize was how big the celebration would be. I was quickly overwhelmed from the cuteness…little baby toes and fingers, baby sneakers, proud moms…there were so many and smiles were everywhere! Not to mention, our great friend Sean with Lucky’s Market was setting up his tent right next to us. We frequent many of the same events as Lucky’s such as the Green Gable House, Keepin’ it Loyal to Local, and local races to name a few. Our office for the day was looking pretty perfect.

Watching Bekah take charge was the next best thing to witness. The moms marched off in a procession of strollers and wheels. Confidently rolling their little people over the grassy terrain to tackle the next phase of the workout. It was truly epic. I couldn’t help but smile at Bekah’s capacity to bring humor and fun to every exercise. I watched her instruct the moms to do variations of squats, lunges and other strength building exercises in front of their babies who on the flip side appeared incredibly content with the situation. The babies watched their moms wide eyed, some mimicking the hand and feet movements of their own personal super hero. Bekah was leading the moms through difference chants of songs and nursery rhymes. She had many tricks to keep the atmosphere silly yet productive…a winning recipe in life if you ask me.

The endorphins were strong.

I walked with the group to the next location in the park where they would roll out yoga mats for a cool down routine. I was visually inspired by the raw moments and bond between the moms and babies and was having too much fun trying to capture those moments for our YouTube daily vlog. I got to chatting with a Erin, a mom of six month old identical twin girls Tilly and Naome, and who has been a member of the group for four months now. She gushed telling me about the many things she loves about this group and said the comradery between the moms was her favorite part. She appreciated the fact that she didn’t have to feel alone or isolated as a new mom because the club gave her a sense of community. “It’s one big happy family and I’m not just saying that” she told me as she covered her heart with her hands while grinning at her little ones.

We want to thank Rebekah for what she is doing in the community to help build strong, resilient mother’s and families and we want to thank the moms who came by for coffee during and after the workout. It was so great getting to know you and your minis! And Bekah was right…y’all can drink some coffee! We appreciate you very much!

We encourage any mothers in the Space Coast area to reach out to Bekah at rebekahcoates@fit4mom.com if you are interested in joining the group and would like to know more or you can visit her website www.spacecoastfit4mom.com to see other locations and times that the group meets. The first is week is FREE and the group welcomes all new moms with their arms wide open! If you are out of area look online to see where the closest Fit4Mom club is to you and happy motherhood!

Peace, love, coffee and moms!

<3 Paige

 

 

A Salty Bean Sunday

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Today was one of those take care of business-for the business type of days. We all need time in our lives to do that "life stuff" like grocery shopping, laundry, maybe even pull out the vacuum. On occasion we will book a Sunday for a special event like a race or farmers market. Currently we deliver coffee every weekday morning with two additional double days where we attend local markets after the morning buzz route. Saturday's you can pretty much always guarantee an event will be happening somewhere within county limits and beyond. Which leaves Sunday Funday as a "get yourself postured for the busy week ahead-or BUST" day. There is truly never ever a dull moment when you own a coffee van. 

Last night our great friends Kaitlin and Ed Donner put a hard press on for us to join them and some friends at Long Doggers in Satellite Beach. We had just had our best day of coffee sales in Salty Bean history at the Maverick CrossFit Freedom Games, it would only seem expected to go out and celebrate with friends...

When Noah and I cooked up the idea of Salty Bean Coffee Co. we envisioned ourselves frequenting National Parks where we could train on beautiful and diverse trails, then maybe pop the van window open, sell a few cups and exchange stories with other Earth lovers and afford gas to the next destination. The van would serve as an avenue to support a healthy diet and feed my hunger for distance running and exploring my limitations. I dream to either represent USA in trail running on the global level or qualify for the Olympic Trials in Marathon. I still don't know what I'm best suited for but I'm stoked to go for it and give my best. 

We found out quite quickly how naive we were...

The two of us both hold masters in education with no experience in sales or business whatsoever. After getting through the fun stuff, picking the business name, designing the logo and website, securing the URL, developing our signature blend, branding the beans, designing the merchandise...we then had to get to the nitty gritty. How do we actually afford more than just gas and organic food? How do support ourselves with $2, $3, & $4 cups of joe? There is wayyyy more money and thought involved in operating a successful business than we ever imagined. There are legal fees, taxes, purchasing the product, insurance for the van and business, health inspection fees, department of agriculture fees, gas, and the big one...van problems. Yes there will be problems and lots of them.

Then there's the clean the van phase after every day of work...We visit our commissary, we have water tanks to fill, product to stock, coffee pots to clean and prep for the next morning. Then there the shipping of orders if they have come in at USPS. Which is never just a trip down the street, Because we do love our job and our "Salty Squad" as we have named all y'all, we prepare every order with love. We handwrite a personal message to you on a card picturing amazing art from my legally blind big sister Hollie. Hollie is just a beautiful soul inside and out so we are trying to promote her artwork which is sure to make you smile. During and after all of that is social media, responding to comments (This is my favorite! I still can't believe we are so new and receiving so much love thank you all so much!) and you of course have to sign in to your emails and tidy that thing up and follow through with contacts for future events.

Then there's the bookkeeping side. I'll say it again...the bookkeeping side. Like nails to a chalkboard. This part is HUGE and so critical, we were so clueless at first and honestly terrible with the books it was like learning a new language or procrastinating that semester paper until the night before. We still could be more advanced with it then we are but trust me when I say we are lightyears better than where we were. 

And somewhere in all that is the run phase...goals aren't reached without work. I used to pride myself on being a no-excuses type of athlete but this is an all time high for workload and sometimes it just doesn't happen because we are that booked up. I'm learning to cope. The business is the priority and without it operating the dream won't exist to it's full potential. 

However, the run did happen (yay) and it was perfect to sneak to Wickham Park with Noah for a few miles at sunset. The air was fresh and trails were calm, and my foot is still feeling good!!! 

This whole journey feels like training for a marathon if you want to think of it that way. And you're a sumo wrestler or something completely different by nature. You won't just bolt out the door day one for a ten miler expecting a perfect pace at a comfortable threshold. But if you make reasonable and attainable short terms goals, you will be better prepared when the race comes.

Owning a business is a lot of work. We have more respect than ever for other business owners like the many we have partnered with since starting Salty Bean Coffee Co.  We are sleeping less than we ever have, and definitely socializing with friends outside of business less than ever. Although we did in fact make it out last night with the Donner's, they are amazing and both business owner-triathlete stars so we really look up to them. It was the first time since Easter that we took a break with friends. There is literally always something to do when you have a business, something more you can do to be better. But isn't that to succeed at any passion or job? Nothing worth attaining was achieved without hard work and sacrifice. We are freakin STOKED for this JOURNEY and holding onto every moment! Even the Sundays when "funday" is the less than the fun stuff. Truth is attitude is everything, I make our bed every morning even if we are running late or tired. It takes like two seconds and always makes me feel clear minded and ready for the day. There is serious truth behind the Admiral William McRaven  quote, "If you want to change the world, start by making your bed". Although I think I'll add, "and drink Salty Bean Coffee :) 

We still believe once the Black Pearl is sailing strong we can get her on the course she set out to experience. Traveling, trail running, racing, surfing, writing music, visiting scattered family and inspiring people to chase their dreams and passions is the overall vision. We are both big believers in the plan however, and always trust what the path has ahead is where the best lesson awaits. For now, that lesson lies in the long days of coffee and busy schedules. We are learning how to truly operate a coffee shop out of a cargo van, which is providing us with the best base to grow from. It's all ripe soil, and it's lending to the greater destination. 

Live the Dream. Salty Bean.

Paige 

Maverick Crossfit Freedom Games

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This morning's Freedom Games at Maverick CrossFit was one of the best days in Salty Bean Coffee Co. history, and for multiple reasons...

The main idea to celebrate was the magic and inner workings of people and passion.  The magic of today was first sparked when we met West Melbourne Maverick CrossFit owner Jeff Crawford in the window of our coffee van at the Satellite Beach Fireman Olympics just two months ago. We instantly connected with Jeff and admired his pure stoke for the world of crossfit and specifically his facility and community. He was eager to show it off to us and include us in anyway possible. He also happened to truly enjoy our organic coffee and felt the members of his gym would feel the same way. The seed was immediately planted for what would later be an unforgettable day. 

This morning Noah and I drove down Wickham Road toward the event with no expectations as neither of us have ever been to a crossfit gym let alone a crossfit competition. We had no doubt however that we would have a great time because of our quick fondness for Jeff and his awesome wife Julia whom is also a crossfit coach and ranked top 20 in the USA for olympic weight lifting. They are the type of couple you meet and think to yourself wow, this is an example of the overly hashtagged phrase "goals." We all know people who are "goals" to us. We had already heard great things about their gym through casual conversations via the small window of the Black Pearl. This is another example of the magic beneath the surface in day to day life, something we get to witness daily now that we operate a coffee shop out of an old van.

We have the privilege to bring our beans and share the stoke with all types of people in different places. We also have built a small following here in Brevard County and it always brings a smile to our faces when someone from what we call the "Salty Squad" finds us from a social media post at some obscure location to enjoy some coffee and real talk.  For example, just today we met a very kind couple from the Tampa area who had been as they called "stalking" us online and had been trying to track us down because they heard about our unique coffee company. So now you have a couple from out of area visiting and learning about an amazing local gym, all because of coffee, our coffee! It's so freakin' awesome and is exactly why we got into this business...coffee has this special capacity to build a sense of community. I witnessed this concept back in my hometown of Keene, NH where craft coffee shops like Prime Roast and Brewbakers hosted a home base and social network for local culture and family. I credit these places in providing a dependable "happy place" I could retreat to for peace of mind or creative inspiration for my writing. To achieve this from a converted 1995 Ford Econoline is beyond epic, in my opinion. 

Through the randomness and adventure of our business model, we can bring people of different backgrounds together. I would not have enough fingers or toes to count the numerous occasions our coffee has led to a new friendship amongst unfamiliar neighbors here in Brevard County. People are learning about things happening in their backyards through our coffee business that they previously would not have known about.  

You could easily pass by Maverick CrossFit off Ellis Road, not realizing the magnitude of what's going on behind the humble walls of the large warehouse structure. Jeff had reached out to us the night before the event, letting us know how stoked his people were for us to join them for their competition. He was right. As soon as we popped our serving window open, a line had formed. New faces quickly greeted us, and they were all so excited to support our dream. Shirts and hats were being bought, some found a handmade mug that called to them, others a Salty Bean piece of jewelry. We try to have something for everyone to join the dream, even if you don't favor coffee. Although, Maverick CrossFit happened to be very ready and stoked for our product. 

The morning of competition unravelled with the coffee vibes at an all time high. One thing we learned is that CrossFit athletes are jazzed for coffee! Some participants came back to our window two or three times throughout the event! Everyone was smiling, everyone was stoked, and everyone was genuinely happy to talk to us and encourage our business, just as they encouraged each other in the competition. 

Every new day we live through with Salty Bean Coffee Co. here in Brevard County seems to leave us speechless. Today was not only the best day for sales we have experienced so far in the short history of our business, but also one of the best days in terms of the dream. A dream by people, for people. 

Thank you Jeff and Maverick CrossFit for an amazing morning and more to come!

Live the Dream. Salty Bean!

Paige and Noah

 

Throwback: The Salty Running Social (October 2017)

Have you ever had a crazy awesome idea just come to you randomly? Maybe it’s late at night with a few friends, a casual conversation escalates and now you all have this killer plan to start a yoga/surfing/music retreat! Or maybe it’s in the middle of your run…one moment you’re admiring how the morning sun filters through the tree canopy and all of the sudden you have an in idea for the next best app available on all devices. It’s genius! Your only dilemma is that you know nothing about building apps, coding, or really anything at all related to the subject. What you do have though is the vision…the possibility, the what if. What if that late night convo wasn’t just for kicks and giggles? What if you just went for it?

I can recall the exact moment we first thought of owning a mobile coffee business. We were living in Oceanside, California. Noah was working as a 4th grade teacher at Tri-City Christian School, and I was the assistant cross country and track coach to the legendary Steve Scott at California State University, San Marcos. My team was a dream, and I loved driving to “work.” We both had fantastic salaried jobs and Masters Degrees that helped get us there (and student loans to prove it!) My training was going better than ever too. We had an ocean view apartment one street away from the beach, and we surfed most evenings with a front row seat to unreal sunsets. Sunsets are amazing anywhere, but picture this...peacefully you sit, straddling your surf board. Water laps over your knees and you look down at your legs dangling in the grand abyss. Your shadow rolls over the waves reflecting the pastel skies and beams of light skip around the sea. Heaven is just a splash away.

Not a day passed where I didn’t feel complete gratitude stepping out my front door to rows of palm trees and sunshine. I remember thinking…wow…I’m 26 and I have everything I’ve ever wanted. I was getting out the door daily to run, building my resume, and obtaining degrees and certificates.  I had landed an incredible job in the coolest place possible, and all the while was falling in love in Laguna Beach. How could life get any better?

We had just come in from a surf session, and we were discussing holiday plans, balancing both families on separate sides of the country, flights, car rentals, and making time for friends too. Noah then pointed out how epic it would be to have jobs that allowed us to travel. This way our only time off wouldn’t be spent trying to squeeze in time with family. It didn’t feel right calling life “perfect” and only seeing loved ones a few times a year…if we were lucky. “Imagine having a food truck? I’ve always dreamt of driving around and selling smoothies or something?” I had suggested. We bantered back and forth a bit about ideas. “Smoothies could get messy” Noah pointed out. Then it came to us…coffee!  

At first it was just something super fun to talk about.  Then we did more research to see if anyone actually does this…and low and behold we discover Carabiner Coffee Company. They are this awesome business based out of Colorado that was started by this dude who drives around in his old VW van selling coffee in the most amazing places.  We looked at his instagram account admiring hundreds of photos displaying his happy face and overall stoke…literally doing exactly what we had dreamed of. It was so reassuing to discover that somebody acutally does this. It was all we needed.

We started playing around with logos and names. We even bought our own beans and practiced roasting in a cast iron pan. We thought of roasting in our van, but decided against it after learning of the many regulations we would need to adhere to. We watched hundreds of youtube videos from coffee farmers to coffee shop owners and van lifers in general. We talked about it a lot with our families and friends. At the time I think they thought we were crazy…

Yet here we are now…

Doing our first event last Sunday was absolutely wild. We had been moving so fast, it didn’t quite sink in until we were driving to Ted’s Shoe and Sport in downtown Keene that morning. We were sleep deprived and tanked up on good vibes. We had a blast meeting runners and people walking by, curious about the big ol’ black van and sign reading “Free Organic Coffee.” Beautiful things happen when people come together.

Moving to Keene and launching our business was a very purposeful decision. We wanted to gain the hometown support that Keene does so well before hitting the road. Keene has a very large running community, so reaching out to them first was the best starting point. My college teammate, Thomas Paquette, owns Next Level Running Company and is a huge advocate for our sport and is especially passionate about including and coaching people from all walks of life and ability. We first thought up the idea of our two businesses teaming up for this event on a chilly run through Goose Pond. He brought it up, and I was obviously game. We would call it the “Salty Running Social.” Ted, owner of Ted’s Shoe and Sport, was gracious enough to host the event in his parking lot. All my runners out there….we all know coffee can help us go the extra mile!

Our plan is to connect with runners and races all over the country, which will allow me to train in diverse places and push myself. My goal is to represent my business and go as a far as I can, so that’s what I plan to do.

If you have a wild idea or something you are incredibly passionate about, find a way to make it your life.

Thank you Keene for the love and support. I am so proud to call this place my home.

Peace, love, running and coffee!

<3 Paige