By LEANN BURKE
ST. ANTHONY — A smile spread across Craig Weyer’s face Wednesday morning as the coffee beans turning in his professional-grade coffee roaster cracked, making a sound like popcorn popping in the microwave.
“That’s called first crack,” Craig explained. “It means the beans are getting to the flavor period of the roast.”
These days, Craig of St. Anthony spends a lot of time out in his garage roasting coffee beans in an effort to produce the perfect craft coffee. After months of trial and error — during which time he made some coffees that tasted like “leather and tennis balls” — he believes he’s got it. That’s good news to his wife, Lori, who handles the business side of the couple’s craft coffee endeavor, dubbed Stay Brewed.
“We’d been shooting around the idea of opening a business for a while,” Lori said. “We were looking for our niche.”
While the couple searched for a niche in Dubois County, Craig’s uncle, who owns Yellowstone Coffee Roasters in Montana, bugged the couple about opening their own coffee roastery. In January, Craig and Lori decided to go for it and planned a June trip to Coffee Fest in Indianapolis to get some training. After that, their home-based business boomed.
“It took on a life of its own,” Craig said, admitting that they weren’t prepared for the demand they’d see.
Now, about six months into selling their coffee, Craig said they’re close to meeting the demand. Pretty impressive, considering the entire facility fits inside one bay of the couple’s garage, albeit just barely. Sacks of green organic beans from South America sit at one end of the bay, waiting for Craig to inspect and weigh them. That happens in the middle of the bay on a table that’s covered in scales, roasted beans waiting to be ground or packaged whole and, of course, a pot of coffee.
Near the table, buckets of roasted beans sit, undergoing the gassing process, which takes 24 hours after the beans are roasted and frees excess carbon dioxide before packaging.
And in the middle of it all stands Craig, keeping an eye on a laptop screen that shows the status of the batch currently in the roaster. He watches the roast with an eagle eye to make sure the end product will fit his taste standards.
The roasting itself takes between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on the roast — much different from the 90-second flash roast many commercial coffee companies use — and the pair produces light, medium and dark roasts that can be purchased ground or whole bean. Craig’s also working on a decaf line. That’s taken a little longer simply because of the chemical process decaf coffee beans go through to remove the caffeine before they arrive at roasters. He thinks he’s got that figured out though.
“I’ve come up with one that tastes pretty good,” he said. “I’d drink it.”
Once the coffee beans are roasted, gassed and ready for packaging, they’re placed in little brown paper bags adorned with a stamp of the company’s logo and a label, which Lori prints in her home office. The simple packaging is intentional, Lori said.
“It adds a touch of personality and intimacy,” Lori said.
To purchase the coffee, customers have to stop by the Weyers’ roastery by appointment. As a home-based company, Stay Brewed isn’t allowed to ship or deliver. But that hasn’t been a problem. Everyone who’s tried the coffee has come back with good reviews, and there are already regulars. That’s a good feeling for Craig and Lori. Stay Brewed is a labor of love for both of them, and they’re glad others are falling in love with the coffee they carefully craft.
At Stay Brewed, Craig said, the coffee is “loved on.”
To contact Stay Brewed or to make an appointment to pick up some coffee, visit the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/coffeeandroastery/, or call 812-661-9576. Roastery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. week days.