A coffee culture of its ownPublished 6:35pm Sunday, November 28, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
In 2005, Niles native Kreg Arnold didn’t think twice about going the distance for good coffee.
“I would go down to Atlanta and get my coffee from a purveyor down there,” he said. “It was wonderful, but it got to be expensive. So we started trying different online coffees.”
He and his wife, Del, were looking for something a little bit more accessible and a little less expensive.
Now, they don’t have to go far.
Kreg heard about home roasting coffee through a coworker who told him he could purchase a small home roaster, with a little bag of green coffee beans to start with.
After trying a cup of what his coworker was brewing up at home, he said the flavor was more like what he was looking for.
“I went ahead and purchased a home roaster and we started roasting coffee,” he said.
That was just the beginning. Three years later, in March 2008, with a passion for a high quality and premium tasting cup of coffee, Kreg and Del joined forces with friend Bill Yoder and started Maple City Roasters, a locally owned and operated coffee roasting company based out of LaPorte, Ind.
“We were interested in starting our own business,” Kreg said. The three toyed with the idea of a coffee house but then the economic downturn created too much risk.
So they stuck with home roasting, beginning with a focus on an online, Web-based business.
“We started very small with a very small investment,” Kreg said.
With just the three of them and a small home roaster, Kreg, Del and Yoder began offering bags of home roasted beans to friends, members of the community and local businesses, roasting their beans a little at a time.
“Then we decided, you know, it’s time to get a commercial roaster,” Kreg said. Doing so increased the capabilities for production. Maple City Roasters can now roast 10 pounds of coffee every 15 minutes.
“We kind of fashion ourselves in like, a micro-environment, you know because that’s the big thing, micro-breweries, small, small everything,” Kreg said. “We try to do roast to order, which means you email, call, go on the website, place your order — we roast it, bag it, ship it.”
“It’s not shelved,” Del said.
Just off a quiet farm in the heart of LaPorte, Maple City Roasters is creating a menu of craft coffees, flavors like Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble and Pumpkin Pecan Spice and specialty blends like Brazil Daterra Espresso, Bonzo’s Blend, (a nickname Kreg earned in Niles) and even an organic Morning After Blend.
Through research, the three learned the intricacies of roasting coffee, how to ensure the beans would hold their flavor in custom blends and they continue to experiment with new flavors.
While their custom blends are brewing, the three business partners also seem to be fueling a localized coffee culture. Maple City Roasters coffee can be found under the Niles Coffee Company label at Majerek’s Readers World. In LaPorte, the company has its beans on several area shelves as well as in select stores in Michigan City.
“We’re doing about 500 pounds a month,” Yoder said.
That’s a lot of coffee. But Maple City Roasters don’t plan to cut back any time soon.
To order or see a menu, visit www.maplecityroasters.com.