by: Jessica Lee
A few years ago, I spent the summer traveling to different countries around the world. One of my favorite stops was in Nepal, where I spent a month hiking the most beautiful mountains. I also had the privilege of meeting Brittany McReynolds – an artist, an adventurer, a dreamer, and now a new business owner.
She sent me a package of coffee from Heritage Coffee Roasters, her and her husband Dane’s new business. Not only do they own this new business but they also are the artists behind Wild Joy Studios and are the parents to two little boys!
I recently interviewed her and I think you will agree with me when I say that she is one of the most inspiring women I have ever met.
Oakmoss: Tell us the story! How did you get started in the coffee roasting business?
Heritage: We started Heritage Coffee Roasters after we returned from serving as missionaries overseas in Nepal, just this past June. It started really as a passion for coffee. I have always enjoyed coffee, and we had the privilege of befriending some people in the industry while in Nepal who taught us a lot about it, and played a big role in deepening our passion for it. We laugh thinking about how far Dane has come, who never even made his first pot of coffee until he was pulling an all-nighter studying in college. He had to call his mom to ask her how to make it. We have both learned a lot since then, and there is still way more to learn!
We bought our first Whirley Pop stovetop roaster and got to home roasting, fine-tuning roast profiles, learning about different origins and what changes at different roast levels, and really just enjoying the process all along the way. It’s safe to say we will never go back to store bought coffee again. Not if we can help it, anyway.
Serving now as campus missionaries in Texas, and being in a community that loves coffee, we found it pretty easy to jump into the roasting business. Our customer base is growing, but more than anything, we are happy to provide people with quality coffee, and get to do what brings us joy.
OM: Where do you get all of the beans from?
H: Our beans come from different suppliers. We started with buying beans from a company called Sweet Marias. They cater more to the home roaster, so when we were buying for our own personal use it was great. Now we are sourcing from different companies, depending on the quality of bean and the particular origin we are looking for.
Our current favorite is Ethiopia. We have tried several that have really blown us away with their intense fruitiness, one with intense strawberry notes, another with blueberry. Though, we have had others from different regions that have been equally as impressive. The fun part about roasting is getting to sample coffees from different origins and pick apart their flavor profiles, and learn about the characteristics each region is known for.
OM: Can you explain the coffee roasting process?
H: Absolutely, though I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. Coffee is actually a fruit, and the coffee bean, the seed inside, is the part used to make your morning cuppa. The bean is separated from the cherry and dried (in various ways, though processing in itself is an entirely different discussion). Roasting is a lot of trial and error, as not all coffee is the same, and roasting can either highlight or diminish the flavor notes you can taste in your cup. There are so many factors that come in to play – variety of bean, origin, elevation it was grown in, soil, etc, that can all affect how you will want to roast. And we are still learning.
As for the process itself, it’s fairly straight forward. The green beans are placed into the roasting chamber, where they are heated to a high degree. As the internal temperature of the bean rises and the sugars begin to break down, CO2 is released causing the beach to “crack.” There are two cracking stages, 1st crack, and 2nd crack. Beyong 2nd is what you would know as dark roast. Each level has it’s pros and cons, and our preference is a lighter roast to preserve those natural characteristics the coffee has to offer. I’m always amazed how one coffee can change so dramatically from one roast level to another.
Once the coffee is roasted to the desired level, it is emptied from the chamber and cooled as quickly as possible in order to halt the roasting process. Then, it’s time to enjoy!
OM: What is the best part of owning your own business?
H: There’s a lot we like about owning our own business. It’s hard to narrow it down to one particular thing. It’s something we can make our own, and that’s a lot of fun for us. It also provides us with flexibility in setting our own schedule. For us, that freedom is invaluable to remaining active in ministry, which truly comes first. Not only that, but owning our own business allows us to have control over how it is run. We want it to be a blessing to others, and to be run in a manner that glorifies God. Our hearts are to be about His business, and if we can take the company and make it work for His Kingdom, then I think we are doing something right.
OM: If you could tell one thing to new small-business owners, what would it be?
H: Oh goodness, we feel so unqualified to offer any sort of advice to those starting out since we are just starting out ourselves, but if we had anything to offer it would be this – persevere. There are so many details that require attention, and the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. Don’t let that be a discouragement to you or a reason to quit. Remember why you started it in the first place, and remember to let yourself enjoy it. We took one of our passions and turned it into a business, but we still find joy in the process, and the sheer enjoyment we get out of a truly great cup of coffee and the community and fellowship that can happen around it makes it worth all the red-tape. If we ever lose that, I think we will have lost what ever made it special to us in the first place.
We love a good brew! Support Heritage Coffee Roasters and sip a cup of coffee with us! Place your order by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Instagram (@heritageroasters) to keep up with new coffees, availability, events, etc. and place your order there in the comments or via Direct Messages.