I started Berries to Beans out of a natural progression from my love of coffee. I have loved coffee since I was a young adult living and growing up in New Orleans, where tourists and locals alike still flock to the Cafe du Monde in the famous French Quarter. There, the specialty is hot beignets (French donuts), sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with delicious cafe au lait–strong New Orleans coffee and chicory with steamed milk.
As a college student, I spent a summer backpacking throughout Europe where I experienced that same strong, rich coffee I had come to love. In France, they serve it dark with hot milk. The Italians are famous for espresso roast typically served in demitasse cups with a slice of lemon. In Greece, Turkish-style coffee, a dark roast ground into a powder and boiled in water, is the norm. (But be sure you never drink it to the bottom unless you want a mouthful of thick coffee sludge!)
For years I searched for that coffee that was more than just a hot, wake-up beverage. I hung out at coffee shops and sampled different ‘gourmet’ varieties long before the appearance of certain coffee chain outlets on almost every corner. I drank it all, from the cheap stuff off the grocery shelf–sold in large blue and red cans–to single origin coffees from exotic-sounding places around the world. I soon became a bona fide coffee snob. I searched out the dark oily beans, heavy-bodied and able to stand up to the addition of cream and sugar without losing their signature taste. I eventually rounded out my palate to include a greater variety of roasts from lighter to darkest and almost burned. Simply put, coffee was an obsession.
No longer satisfied with even the specialty coffees off the shelf, I began scouring the internet for small batch roasting companies. I was intrigued when I discovered a coffee company that sold green coffee beans. Then I began reading up on the whole process from the origin of the beans to how they were roasted. Next, I purchased some raw green coffee and set out to roast it myself. I fancied myself an urban cowboy, roasting the beans in a cast iron skillet over an open fire on my grill. I must admit it was an adventure, and any adventure involving coffee was just fine with me. First, I tried roasting it in the oven, and the results turned out great! My wife, however, was not at all pleased with the acrid clouds of smoke! But never fear! Today, I am able to increase the amount I can roast at one time while taking the process out of the house, much to my wife’s satisfaction.
My love of coffee is what continues to motivate me to constantly improve and share it with friends and family. It seems a natural progression to want to introduce new friends to a drink that has been around for centuries. I think we take too many things for granted in life. We are rushed, stressed, pushed and pulled in all directions, eat too much fast food, watch too much TV and forget to take the time to relax and enjoy the finer things in life. Let me introduce you to one of those things: not just a better cup of coffee, but a better and enhanced total experience. From Berries to Beans and finally, to your cup! Enjoy!