Almost a decade ago, Natalie Van Dusen abandoned a tech career in San Francisco for a career in a completely different industry and location: coffee roasting in Bozeman, Montana. During a motorcycle trip through Colombia, Van Dusen had a revelation while observing a farmer roasting his coffee beans. In the world’s second-largest producer of Arabica coffee, stovetop roasting has been and continues to be the norm. The same artisanal techniques used by small-scale farmers could be learned by a novice, with potentially excellent results. The realisation of this idea’s germ? Treeline Coffee Roasters in Bozeman, Montana.
Why espresso? “I’ve always been passionate about it. At the age of six, I would make my parents coffee and then drink the rest of the pot (with plenty of milk and sugar) myself. As I aged, I grew fond of coffee shop culture. Coffee fosters a sense of community and connection. “I didn’t learn about coffee roasting and take it up as a hobby until I visited that coffee farm in 2008,” said Van Dusen.
Similarly to the mountains of western Colombia, which are home to some of the best coffee in the world, the breathtaking mountainous terrain surrounding Bozeman attracted Van Dusen for business purposes. She established Little Red Wagon Coffee Roasters in 2013, and her childhood friend or “little sister” Deejay Newell soon joined the company in 2014.
Both are natives of California. Van Deusen was a camp director in California, a ski school programme manager in Whistler, British Columbia, and a technical recruiter in San Francisco. Newell was en route to law school when she spent the summer in Montana with Van Deusen. She had been in Bozeman for a week when she informed her parents that she was staying with Van Deusen in order to run Treeline.