Cache Valley man launches new coffee roastery near Capitol Reef

Shawn Passey admits to feeling a little adrift after quitting his job as a coffee roaster at Caffe Ibis in Logan, where he had worked for almost a decade.

“I mean, I was there for over 15 years,” Passey remarked, “and I have nothing but affection for the Ibis.”

While undergoing major life changes, including relocating to Torrey, Utah, Passey stated that he had no plans to start his own coffee shop.

Passey stated, “I never imagined I’d roast coffee again unless it was for someone else.” “Coffee roasting is one of my favourite things to do… I just don’t have that risk-taking attitude, but Brooke does.”

Shooke Coffee Roasters, an artisan coffee roastery in the high desert near Capitol Reef National Park, was founded with the help of co-owner Brooke Salt. The name, according to Passey, began as a “celebrity name” joke among friends, combining their names, Shawn and Brooke.

“He knows how to roast coffee,” Salt added, adding that she was eager to jump right in, learn the ropes with him, and “bloom where we’re planted.”

“It was like everything just came into place,” Salt said, “and I was like, ‘Shawn, let’s do this thing.’”

Passey has been handling the roasting and purchase of green coffee beans, as well as the upkeep of their 1986 German-built Probat roaster, since their first roast on April 20.

“I adore the art of coffee roasting,” Passey remarked. “I just went to school to learn how to, you know, buy green coffee and keep track of the market.”

Salt, on the other hand, has been in charge of the company’s marketing, packaging, and logistics. The company’s website, which went online earlier this month, was built by Salt. Salt said the response has been excellent thus far, despite a busier-than-ever tourism season.

With a grin, Salt added, “It just keeps getting crazier.” “I was quite certain that the coffee would be excellent…. Now we simply have to work out the rest of it, the business side of things.”

The roastery’s business strategy, according to Passey, is a little “risky,” because a coffee that’s in stock today might be out of supply tomorrow.

Passey stated from the start that he intended to have a rotating selection of coffees that showed his passion for experimentation and refinement in coffee roasting. The plan, though, mirrors the “very tough” and pricey coffee industry.

Passey explained, “We’ll be cycling coffees in and out as we acquire them and attempting to hold on to as many as we can get.” “It’s a guarantee that we’ll roast the greatest coffees we can.”

Shooke is devoted to sustainability, according to Passey, by using Biostone labels composed of calcium carbonate and polythene resin, as well as reused boxes for delivery.

“We basically want to be on the lookout for ways to make our packaging and labelling as sustainable as possible,” Passey added. “It just makes sense,” says the narrator.

Randy Wirth, the former proprietor of Caffe Ibis, instilled in Passey a passion for roasting coffee. According to Passey, he had the advantage of “understanding those tiny details” about how various beans are produced, where they are grown, and how to roast them for the optimum flavour profile.

Passey added, “He was a wonderfully passionate man about many things, but he loved his coffee.” “He was so passionate about small farmers and getting the best coffees he could … he honed his craft.”

Leaving Caffe Ibis — not to mention his co-workers and friends, former bandmates, and his Aggie Radio show — was no small feat for Passey. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Passey said he underwent a shift in perspective and decided to make some changes.

“It was sad, because I love the Ibis,” Passey said. “The COVID thing hit, and it just kind of changed everything.”

Shooke is currently supplying coffee at The Island Market in Logan as well as The Wild Rabbit Cafe in Torrey.

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