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Coffee Coffee Coffee!!

As you know, or maybe you don’t, in addition to having a farm, we also have a coffee addiction. Sometimes I get super shaky after drinking coffee which I attribute to my forgetting I’m no longer in my 20’s and a pot of coffee no longer sustains me all day. Oh those were the days, I could eat a muffin top and drink a pot of coffee and be fine until dinner. As I’ve gotten older, I need to eat at least two large meals a day, or three small meals, and half a pot of coffee in one sitting is pushing it for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been drinking coffee all my life.

I believe I was about 5 when I decided I wanted to be like my mom and have coffee in the morning. I believe she also started drinking coffee around that age. It’s a family addiction. Back then however, our coffee was mostly milk, with a little bit of coffee, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally moved to straight black coffee. But what really made me into a coffee fan was when she started taking the green coffee beans and roasted them in a pan on her stove. I was in awe. That smell, and the mess it made, I officially fell in love with coffee. I went from drinking it, to enjoying it. I constantly compare having a cup of coffee to having hot chocolate. It’s not about the caffeine, it’s just comforting. My mom went from roasting on a pan to using a small home roaster, the smell, while still available, didn’t come with the same dense cloud of smoke, or the mess. As her experience grew, the deeper I fell. And then one day, she was forced to give it up. For years, 14 to be exact, I would reminisce about when she was a coffee roaster. I begged and pleaded with her to start it up again. I even considered roasting on my stove, but I lived in an apartment, and my roommates would have been annoyed by the smell and the thick cloud of smoke.

When Chris and I started dating, he was an avid soda drinker. I nipped that in the bud real fast, and promptly made him a coffee drinker. While he doesn’t see the romance in a cup of coffee the way I do, he does enjoy it. Our first Christmas together really sealed the deal for him with coffee. My mom gifted us a home coffee roaster, some green coffee beans and a fantastic book about roasting coffee. Just like that we become blind coffee snobs. I say blind, because we had no clue what we we’re doing, we just liked that we could roast our own coffee, and snubbed our nose at anything less than fresh roasted coffee. It was really good coffee, and as we shared it with friends, and even sold it on our farm stand, we started to run into a capacity issue. Our machine was only meant to roast 4oz of coffee, and here we were selling a half pound at a time. I talked with my mom about her new machine and immediately had to copy her. In hindsight, I would have preferred to spend a little more and purchased a HotTop instead. It would have taught me so much more, but my Gene did produce more and did put out a good cup of coffee. Once I learned how to use it, and how to roast coffee for that matter.

As soon as we purchased the Gene Cafe was when I started to sell it at the farmers market. It was a hit! So much so that I stopped selling my homemade bath products. And then one day the worst possible thing happened, a real professional coffee roaster moved into a space at MY farmers market. I freaked out, on the inside, on the outside I decided to introduce myself, and told him that I was also selling coffee a few stalls down. He was very friendly, and very knowledgeable. But I was still threatened, not only that, but I had actual coffee snobs tasting my coffee and asking questions, but I had no answers for them. That was when I decided to enroll in a week of intro to coffee classes. I told my mom what was going on and she was super jealous and told me to ask a whole bunch of questions for her. And basically relay the information I had learned back to her. I told the other coffee roaster my plans as well, and in true nice guy fashion, he cheered me on. When I took my class at Black Diesel Coffee, I was overwhelmed. First of all, I didn’t realize roasting coffee was such a science. I really don’t have an extensive vocabulary, and they used words I had never heard before. Luckily Nick is an AMAZING instructor, and everyone who works there, as well as the other coffee roasters really gave me great tips and offered so much help. I was overwhelmed. The one lesson I took back with me, there’s never too many roasters. Even if we have the same roasting machine and the same bean, we will roast it in a different way. In addition, there are so many different palates out there, which means there’s a never ending demand for coffee.

I developed a great relationship with the people at Black Diesel and was able to have them taste and critique my coffee. I even moved to a larger roaster after taking that class, which obviously killed my mom. She couldn’t wait to come visit me and play on the new machine.

By this time my mom had discovered that she could roast cacao beans (chocolate in their natural form) in her coffee roaster and boy is she good at it. She started selling bean to bar chocolate at local craft fairs and then the orders started to come in. The next thing I knew, she had added marshmallows to the menu, all while still roasting coffee and working 40 hours a week. As her retirement started drawing near, and she was really toying with the idea of relocating to Michigan, she started to pull back from the markets in California and focus on the markets out here. She even participated in a popup market with me at a local church, she was a hit! I sold some of her goodies at another market after she went back to California and even had some requests for wedding favors. When her decision had been finalized to make the move from California to Michigan, she had to really pull back from her budding business and start packing it all up. I too had moved my large coffee roaster from the farm to my father-in-law's barn, but I couldn’t for the life of me, get a consistent roast. That’s when we had the brilliant idea of moving the roaster to my mom’s new house, and asking Nick from Black Diesel to come teach us how to properly use this machine. He helped us iron out some kinks, got us properly prepared for future growth, and off we went! Now we just need to verify that she is in fact able to roast cacao beans in the coffee roaster and not have it affect the coffee beans. I believe that will make her life easier, and all of our lives yummier!!

Since our private lesson on our roaster, I have decided to slow down on adding new coffee beans to my list. I have roasted and tasted so much coffee this last month, and it’s been both fantastic, and horrible. There’s nothing like overroasted coffee to start your day, let me tell you. This is where the science in the roast comes in, each bean has a personality, and it wants you to find it in the way you roast it. The quality of the green bean also makes a huge difference, as does the way the green beans are being stored until you’re ready to roast them. As a thank you gift for helping her with her move to Michigan, my mom bought me a moisture meter to make sure our green coffee beans weren’t stale. It’s that kind of detail and care that we take with our coffee and cacao that make us specialty roasters. The quality of the beans we buy add to that specialty roasting concept whether it's coffee or chocolate, we’re always learning and trying to make the best products for your enjoyment, and ours, because let’s face it, we’re also enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Please help me welcome my mom Karen Pacella of Ciao Bella Farms to Michigan! We're so thrilled to have her down the street from us! Come say hi to her at the Richland Farmers Market, or better yet, give her a call at (951) 454-4711 or email her at

We love you so much Mommee!!

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