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From Green Beans to a Cup of Joe

Local roasters spill the beans on their coffees
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Phrases like “the best part of waking up,” cappuccino, coffee break, and “let’s meet for coffee” have become commonplace, and it’s all thanks to one plant: the coffee flower. Coffee plays a significant role in cultures across the globe, from providing a jumpstart to the day to an opportunity to gather with friends and shoot the breeze, coffee in hand. Wanting to know more about the process of making coffee, we turned to two local roasters — one of which recently opened its Truckee coffee shop with in-house roasting — to learn more about the perks of their processes.

Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Company

There’s only a small number of coffee roasters that use wood to fire the beans, and one of them operates in Reno. Tim Curry has been roasting coffee for 12 years and currently roasts between 450 and 500 pounds a week by burning oak. He produces approximately 12 different coffees with proprietary blends for certain cafés, and he works with five different importers to find unique beans. His Monsooned Malabar variety is stored in open-walled warehouses in monsoon season in India, mimicking the coffee’s historic travels from India to England during that time of year, plus it changes the acidity of the coffee.

Curry’s first coffee-roasting experience was throwing green coffee beans into a saucepan and surprising himself with a great cup of coffee (admittedly beginner’s luck, he said). He’s learned about the intensely time-sensitive process the beans go through, and that you have to listen for subtle sounds like the first crack, which signifies the internal temperature when the beans expand and their pores open, oils develop, and sugars caramelize. A huge, loud timer on the wall rules his roasting hours.

“I never thought of myself as an artistic type,” he said. “I started expressing myself in the coffee, and every blend I created, each coffee tells me when it’s ready, but it’s according to my perception.”


Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

If you time it right, you can observe the complete process, from roasting to brewing, at one of Truckee’s newest coffee spots, Dark Horse Coffee Roasters. Situated on the corner of Brockway and Riverside Drive where the old Book & Bean once was, Dark Horse has a 3-kilo Diedrich coffee roaster in the entranceway. The machine utilizes infrared burners to heat a metal drum, which turns and has ridges on the inside to keep the beans stirring, and can roast up to 5 pounds at once. Owner and roaster Drew Taylor applies what he knows about each bean’s ideal roast times and temperatures at sea level, and he experiments extensively with his roasting at Truckee’s altitude.

“With this elevation, it’s a shorter roast time and the temperature level is lower…I’m roasting at between 404 and 418 degrees,” Taylor said, explaining that the moisture content of each bean largely determines roasting details. “But I do it trial and error; it’s something I’m still learning, especially up here.”

The shop, which opened in mid-August, was brought to town by Taylor and his wife Cassidy after they had their first child and moved to Truckee from San Diego to be closer to Cassidy’s parents, who live in Carson City. The pair worked at the original, and only other, Dark Horse shop in San Diego. When they decided to relocate, Taylor asked the SoCal Dark Horse owner, Daniel Charlson, what he thought about a new Dark Horse in the mountains. Charlson supported the idea and after a delayed opening — Taylor had to reinstall the air ducting for the roaster when it didn’t pass town codes — Dark Horse now roasts and brews coffee every day.


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January 10, 2019