Apropos Roasters

What good is a coffee mug without some coffee to put in it? I actually found these two shops (see yesterday's article) on the same day when I searched for "coffee" on Etsy. That search alone inspired such a wonderful treasury!

It may surprise some of you to know that not only did I not grow up in a coffee-loving home, but I am relatively new to this addiction. And I will stand and say, while drinking my coffee from a mason jar, that I do have a "coffeine" addiction. My husband always drank this stuff called chicory coffee. It’s made from tree bark. (He’s from Louisiana. They do lots of weird things there.) Just smelling of it made me need to go to the bathroom. (Hey, everyone keeps telling me they love my transparent honesty!) I swore I would never drink coffee!  Classic example of never say never!

But I was so tired all of the time. It didn’t matter how healthy I ate, how much I exercised, or how much sleep I got. My husband says I was just born tired. Then one day he made me this most delightful concoction of freshly ground coffee in our new grinder and shaken with goat’s milk and sweetened with sugar. OMWow! I’ve been hooked ever since. We also use a percolator, which really brings out the fullness of the bean. I drink two mason jar-size servings in the morning and one in the late afternoon. Some of you may have noticed the time on my posts.

Yeah, yeah, it’s not about me today. However, it did make for a great segway into my interview with Apropos Roasters.

(Her responses are in blue.)

Of course we don’t want to give away all of your trade secrets (a.k.a. spill the beans), but where do you get your beans?

I buy coffee from pretty much everywhere and anywhere that I believe carries quality beans and is a transparent company (meaning they tell me everything about the coffee and send documents for organic and fairtrade certification). There are lots of distributors out there, big and small, and I like to go to trade shows like Coffee Fest to meet them and get an idea of their product. I meet the people that deal directly with the growers. They are usually very passionate and have a lot of knowledge. Someday, hopefully, I will be able to go along with them and meet the farmers as well.

Was it difficult breaking into the coffee delivery business?

Yes! I'm still working on it, truth be told. Coffee, over the last few years, has changed a lot, and I have tried to change with it. You have to stay on your toes and try not to get too bogged down by the cult-like following that springs up like wildfire around things like food, wine, etc. People are very loyal to their brands and are quick to snub a new product. I joke about being part of the coffee mafia around here! I wish roasters were more supportive of each other but right now it's simply a highly competitive field. I like to keep things simple. I want extremely good coffee to be accessible to people that stick to Folgers, because it's too overwhelming to change. I love that I go from showing a hesitant customer how to use a grinder to hearing them tell me that they like the natural nutty, sweetness in the Fair Trade Mexican when it's lightly roasted. And who doesn't like coming home to the smell of fresh coffee? It's slow-going but very rewarding.

How much of the chocolate and caramels that you make do you eat?

Luckily, I don't have a big sweet tooth, because I love making sweets. On the other hand I have to hide it from my business partner, my boyfriend, and especially my father who called in a panic once when he ran out of the mocha sea salt caramels I'd given him as a Christmas gift.

Is the other "rather small girl" your sister?

The other "rather small girl" is one of my best friends who currently is studying creative writing in Chicago. When I re-did my business plans (for the millionth time) after a few small disasters and one large one, she offered her assistance as a taste-tester. That quickly turned into a partnership. I talk to her multiple times a week, bouncing ideas off of her and sending her new things to taste and when she comes to Richmond we go out to find new accounts. Our plan is to one day open a coffee shop with an office above it where she can write. We also want to start a band called "Pattern on Pattern" but neither of us knows how to play an instrument yet :-)

Okay, more about me for a second. I taught myself to play the piano within the last two years. Go to my other blog and read the article, "Let Me Introduce You to Myselves" which is me doing an interview with myself. You can hear me play (and sing if you listen real closely) and learn a little bit more about me. It’s the coffee, people! It makes me do strange things!  And I like it, haha!
And I’ve been saving the toughest question for last: How does your coffee compare to Fourbucks, I mean, Starbucks?

The hardest part about the "Starbucks" word is that they've trained people to like very dark *ahem, burnt* coffee. I get a lot of people asking for "you know...a really, really dark roast, like Starbucks!" and I oblige but then always send them a sample of something lighter as well. There is nothing wrong with a bold roast but you can have a bold coffee without roasting the bejesus out of it. (Am I supposed to capitalize "Jesus" in that word?)You actually get MORE flavor with a lighter roast, and I've learned that when people ask for "strong" I can give them a medium roasted coffee with a high acidity and they will love it. Starbucks created a language and a standard of taste in the coffee world that you have to learn to speak; there's no getting around it. I think of it as a challenge that I have come to enjoy. Besides, without Starbucks, I wouldn't have the great business market that I do. They created the "fast-food" of coffee, opening the doors for the "four-star" coffee boutiques and shops.

I have learned from my mistakes, and so I am not going to go make coffee right now at 10 p.m. even though I really, really, really want some after looking at all of this wonderful goodness. But I can go eat some Blue Bell Happy Tracks. It just makes me fat, not hyper.

Click here to learn more about her coffee, I mean, her shop.  She's got other coffee-oriented goodies in there!

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