Covenant Roasters brings flavors of the world to local coffee cups
October 11. 2013 9:34AM
Sue Krogman never claimed to be a “coffee snob.”
In fact, she admits to drinking whatever was put before her.
But when the opportunity arose to purchase a local home-based coffee roasting business, Covenant Roasters, Krogman “perked” up at the chance.
Covenant Roasters was started by the husband-wife team of Pat and Marge McClanahan six years ago in Brandon. About a year ago, the McClanahans were looking to sell the business, and it was through a mutual friend that Krogman, a 42-year-old Brandon wife and mother of two, learned of the business opportunity.
“I’ve always wanted to open a business but never felt a calling anywhere,” she says. “And this was a perfect business opportunity that leaves me the time to be with my family. It’s also one of the few Christian businesses out there that not a non-profit that has Christian values.””
Upon purchase, Krogman decided to keep the business name. “They always put a biblical verse on each bag,” she said, “and I’ve kept that tradition. It’s my small way of ministering.”
Learning the coffee roasting business came about as easily as purchasing it, she said. The McClanahans ran her through the roasting process a few times. She also did some reading and “practiced” some, too, she said.
Krogman roasts coffee beans – or cherries – from all over the world. She began with four different countries and has since expanded to seven. Most of the beans she purchases are fair trade organic, which means the workers who harvest the beans are paid a fair wage.
The beans, which she purchases in 150-pound bags from a Minneapolis wholesaler, are imported from Mexico, Guatamela, Sumatra, Peru and Ethiopia. “When I do buy, it has to be a huge 150-pound bag, so I hope and pray it’s always going to be good,” she said.
“Covenant Roasters,” she adds, “is unique because you can taste the true coffee of that country.”
For stronger-flavored coffees, Krogman said the beans are roasted longer. But the longer roasting time also lessens the amount of caffeine, she explained.
Krogman said she experiments with each new coffee bean she orders. That technique, she said, is called “cupping.”
“When I first get a bag in, I take samples of it at different temperatures and then make coffee to taste what I prefer,” she explained.
The beans are roasted at a temperature of 400 to 425 degrees, with final roasting temperature between 415 and 445 degrees.
“It doesn’t smell like coffee when the beans are roasting though,” she said. “It smells like burnt popcorn, so when I’m roasting, even when I’m in my garden, I can really smell it.”
Roasting the beans, however, is the least timely aspect of the business. Krogman said she typically roasts for about two hours once a week. Each batch of beans takes about 14 minutes in the roaster.
Printing labels, packaging the beans, grinding them for some customers, and delivering the product consume most of the time she invests in the business.
Krogman is one a variety of home-based business owners who recently joined the Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The business had been around for six years and no one knew about it,” she said.
She’ll introduce the business to the public at the Brandon Expo next month.
Selling her product
Covenant Roasters coffee can be purchased for home brewing at Sunshine Foods in Brandon, Cleaver’s Market and The Natural Food Coop in Sioux Falls, and the Treasure Chest in Garretson. The Treasure Chest also serves it free to its customers while shopping in the store.
A Cappuccino Cabin at Rice and Cliff in Sioux Falls also serves her coffee.
Kris Frerk of the Treasure Chest said she’s always looking for little “niches” to sell in the store.
“What I like about it is that it’s easy to put in gift baskets,” she said. “And it’s neat to include something that’s actually roasted in Brandon.”
Frerk said she enjoys doing business with “a local person trying to make it on their own,” she said. “And I’m a coffee snob. Like wine, I enjoy a good quality coffee.”