SOLON SPRINGS, WI– Home roasting is the process of roasting coffee from green coffee beans.
It’s a hobby that has been practiced for centuries using simple methods such as roasting in cast iron skillets over a wood fire and hand-turning small steel drums on a kitchen stovetop.
But the coffee industry isn’t always environmentally friendly. The biggest source of environmental damage comes during the production of the beans themselves through plantations. But an E-commerce business in Solon Springs, Wisconsin is doing their part to ensure the highest quality beans without the negative environmental impact.
Longtime customers of U-Roast-Em, Jane and Marty Russo, never imagined one day they would own the business.
“I worked for a large bank for most of my career in the Twin Cities and never really ever saw myself being an entrepreneur,” says Marty.
The Russo’s moved from St. Paul to their cabin in Gordon last year for retirement, when they learned the supplier of specialty grade green coffee beans for home roasting, was for sale.
Marty says, “we never really said like, let’s go buy a small coffee business. We just were just home roasters as a hobby for years.”
With an already built customer base, the couple took advantage of the opportunity.
“We love the coffee business, we love home roasting, so we decided we’d take a crack at it,” says Jane, a former dental hygienist.
The small business was originally located in Hayward, Wisconsin. It wasn’t until this July that the Russo’s moved shop. Marty says, “we’re able to in our own tiny way, in Solon Springs, Wisconsin, we’re able to kind of zero in on the kind of coffee producers that match this businesses value system.”
A value system of ensuring high-quality grade beans from plantations overseas without environmentally damaging practices.
“We are able to buy those specialty beans and get them to people without any chemicals, just uses very sustainable practices.”
The couple also takes value in buying beans from a women-owned cooperative, which is a top seller.
“What we noticed was it sold out right away, says Marty, “so the women-owned coffee producer beans in particular from Sumatra, they’re extremely high quality beans, they’re the highest quality beans. But people seem to really appreciate having that chance to support something like that.”
The business offers over 30 different kinds of beans which are shipped out via postal mail to customers. Jane says, “about half fairtrade organic, and then some decaf also a few options for that.”
Owning a business wasn’t in the Russo’s retirement plan, but now that they are in it, they look forward to expanding and eventually distributing to small mom and pop coffee shops.
Marty says, “it’s been very fulfilling, very unusual, exciting, scary.”
The Russo’s are hoping to grow business by add new beans along with eventually becoming a micro consumer business.
For more information on U-Roast-Em click here.