I was roasting coffee for many years before turning my passion into a business. As a musician, gardener, baker, brewer, and cook, I see coffee roasting as yet another extension of my artistry. Before coming to Athens to teach English as a Second Language at Ohio University, I studied linguistics and language acquisition at the University of Iowa. I currently host the Open Stage at the Smiling Skull Saloon every Tuesday, and can often be found playing my fiddle, banjo, or whatever else I can use to make a song.
My love of coffee began in 2007 while I was living in Europe. During a two-month break from my studies at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet in Freiburg, Germany, I set off on an audacious cross-continental voyage. I visited the famous Cafe Louvre in Prague, Czech Republic, where, at a friend's suggestion, I purchased medovnik (Czech honey cake) and my first cup of coffee. I loved it so much that I got a second cup!
I then spent a some time in Spain, enjoying the ubiquitous café con leche (espresso with condensed milk) served on every street corner, before returning to Germany where I would hang out with Italian friends and make Moka Pot coffee on the stove. Then I moved to Finland for a couple months and drank instant coffee because I didn't want to buy (and subsequently abandon) a coffee pot. But I don't like to talk about that.
Caleb enjoying coffee and a donut at the Pyynikin Munkkikahvila in Tampere, Finland. This cafe is located in the base of an observation tower on a forested hill between two large lakes. The name means "Pyynikki Donut Cafe" in Finnish.
After such a worldly introduction to coffee, the selections available in the United States couldn't satisfy my sophisticated palate -- but luckily, my father gave me a coffee-roasting machine in 2009 and I began learning the art of coffee roasting. I spent many hours learning to feel what the beans are doing, by looking and smelling and listening and imagining the final flavor in my mind before the beans are even out of the roaster. It's really an art form, and it's one of the craziest ones I know.
In the fall of 2013, a friend heard that I knew how to make good coffee and wanted to get some from me. I was poor and I didn't have any green coffee at the time, but I told her if she gave me $50, I could get some good green coffee beans, roast them, and compensate her with five pounds roasted fresh as she needed. I treated this as a micro business loan, and in early 2014, after paying off the "loan", I began selling my fresh-roasted coffee to other friends. I slowly saved to purchase new roasting equipment, a website, computer, and other supplies, building the business from the ground up.
Ten pounds of coffee in a banjo case
Caleb's Coffee currently operates under the State of Ohio's "Cottage Food Production" laws (similar to many Farmer's Market producers). Roasted coffee may be sold to both individuals and businesses, but only within the State of Ohio; most business is done in the Athens, Ohio area. Caleb's Coffee is never more than a week old (and can even be roasted fresh to order), so you'll get to taste the brew at its peak!
If you would like to learn more about Caleb's Coffee, there's a whole section on this website called About Caleb's Coffee! You can also find a great article from Ohio University's Backdrop Magazine linked on the Press Appearances page, and there's a whole section about the Moral Principles under which Caleb's Coffee operates. If you use social media, you can follow Caleb's Coffee on Facebook and Twitter to get news and information. Enjoy your brew!