My journey in coffee began in June of 2020. At this time, I was just starting out and looking for direction. Some of this came through a great conversation I had with a very pleasant Diedrich representative, Margie Paulson, who was very informative and sparked my interest in their roasting equipment. Honestly, being a new company, I was a bit intimidated and I did not know if I could make this roasting dream work. And yet I knew I needed to support our men and women here in the US. If I was to take my small roasting company to the next level, it had to be American-built. Over the next couple of months, I did in-depth research on roasters and their manufacturers. I spoke to representatives and owners evaluating support, warranty, part availability, ease of use, and aesthetics.
My deciding point came late in September of 2020. I had enrolled for an official roasting class at the “LAB” with Royal NY. It was there where I truly fell in love with the Diedrich roaster. The ease of use, the reproducibility of batches, and the quality of the IR 5 had me sold. I communicated my experience with Christine at Diedrich and shared my story of being a frontline healthcare worker. She, in turn, shared my story with Mr. Karl Schmidt, and between the two of them, they were able to offer me free shipping and crating, making the purchase more manageable. After a family meeting and praying on it, we felt it was the right decision. Christine’s thoughtful cards are well appreciated; it made us feel that we have bought into a family with values versus just being another purchase.
Although I only started roasting in 2020, coffee has been ingrained in my soul as far back as I can remember. It has always been more than a morning pick me up; it’s what bonded my family, friends, and even strangers. Coffee, for me, is a gesture of hospitality and goodwill to be shared. I initially got into roasting for personal, slightly selfish reasons: I have always been on a quest for the perfect cup, purchasing and sampling coffee everywhere I go. Yet, I grew tired of paying high prices to only be disappointed by low quality or poorly roasted coffee. I have traveled abroad many times and never experienced a bad cup of coffee. There is a great sense of pride in Europe’s coffee culture lacking in my local community. So, I went online, ordered a small air roaster, ordered greens, and started this journey. My small batches were far from perfect, but a thousand times better than anything I was purchasing in-store or at the so-called local roaster. I started to take coffee to family and friends; the best part was to see their faces light up when the coffee hit their lips and ask where this was purchased. Then saying it was the best cup of coffee they had experienced. After a few months of air roasting and people always asking me to sell them coffee, I decided to purchase the HUKY Roaster and start a small business.
I immersed myself in whatever roasting books I could find, educated myself on roasting techniques, took a course on building a wholesale coffee business, and learned to use Artisan. After months of self-taught roasting and selling coffee, I enrolled in roasting school at Royal New York. Here is where I learned cupping, density, moisture evaluation, and proper roasting technique. I roasted on Diedrich’s IR-5, and to me, this was the pinnacle of my coffee journey! Yet it was only the beginning. I took what I learned at RNY and immediately incorporated it into my techniques. I now had the education I could not get from books! As coffee sales increased, word of mouth began to spread like wildfire, and I knew at this point I was on to something good.
Coffee & Healthcare:
Around March, when the pandemic peaked, the outpouring from the local community was tremendous. Local businesses and restaurants provided us with meals, snacks, drinks, and especially coffee. Coffee is what kept many of us fueled to continue long shifts, not knowing when we would be home to see our families again. It was the community’s way of thanking us for all we were doing.
In June, when most businesses were closed or limited, I began my roasting journey… After gaining quick recognition from family and friends, I began to share coffee with my coworkers at the hospital. This was a real hit, and it was time for me to do my part by bringing happiness to those I work with as the pandemic raged on. As more and more people tasted my coffee, the word began to spread, and before I knew it, people were asking for coffee all the time. I now faced a new burden; I could not meet the demand with my tiny air roaster, so in late July, I ordered the 500g “HUKY T”. This would now allow me to roast four pounds per hour and offered the opportunity to learn and share more with those I worked with in Radiology. During this time, I was also able to donate coffee to the employees of a local cancer center based out of NYC. As my small company continued to grow, the 500g roaster became a burden as I was spending endless hours to meet the demand of customers and donations. To say the least, nights and weekends were completely consumed roasting after working indeterminate hours as MRI Department Manager.
Although it has been a lot of work, it has definitely been rewarding. Roasting has been an outlet, allowing me to free my mind of the stress endured while working at a hospital during this terrible pandemic. I know the IR-2.5 will take my small business to the next level and allow me to donate more coffee to the deserving men and women who put themselves at risk on a daily basis.
I am truly blessed to share a bit of happiness with my healthcare brothers and sisters through the joy of coffee! Great coffee has always brought me happiness, and this is what I intend to spread through my roasting.
by Mark Linderman
Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org