What does this business do?
We roast, grind, package and sell coffee. We buy our coffee beans from Legacy Farms in Honduras through direct trade, which means the farmers get more money and the workers make more money.
What was the impetus for opening this business?
Dan Becker said he wanted coffee while at a re-enactment from 1800. Each camp does a demonstration and the camp next to theirs showed how coffee was made by first roasting the beans in a skillet over an open fire. It was so good, he decided to learn how to roast his own coffee. He and Diana would take their coffee to work with them and soon co-workers were wanting some of the coffee, too, so they decided to open their own coffee company.
What is the best thing about being located in Wheatfield?
Since our sales are all online, location isn’t all that important.
What is the biggest challenge?
There really isn’t a challenge
When is your busiest time of the year?
Since we just started in April, we don’t know for sure, but we’re hoping the holidays will be busy.
What is the most popular thing you sell/service you provide?
Coffee. The regular whole bean is our biggest seller, followed by our single coffee urns for single-cup coffee makers.
What is a less popular item/service you would recommend?
We have flavored coffees, 20 different flavors. Blueberry is the most popular, also rum, banana nut bread and now, pumpkin spice.
What is the thing you most like to do as part of your business?
Dan – “Roast coffee!”
Diana helps with packaging, shipping, flavoring the beans, scheduling events to sell their coffee, including the Sandhill Crane Festival, and the Francesville Fall Festival, both of which are this weekend. Dan just likes to roast the beans.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
“Doing things on our own schedule. I answer to nobody but Diana,” Dan said. “The biggest is the schedule.” As a trooper with the Indiana State Police, Dan has worked midnights for many years, so he often goes out to his workshop in the middle of the night to roast some beans.
What is the biggest downside?
The biggest is keeping up with regulations through the FDA. They have a son-in-law who works with the FDA and has been a huge help in getting the company started.
What is the biggest misconception about your business?
People think we’re rich. People want to know why we don’t have a storefront or a coffee shop, and also, darker roasts do not have more caffeine. The lighter roasts do.
When it comes time to retire, is there a family member who will be taking over for you?
Our son will probably pick it up, but we’re doing this in our retirement. Diana retired this summer and Dan is looking at eventually retiring from the Indiana State Police, where he’s been for 27 years, and worked as a police officer in Cedar Lake before that. He was the Wheatfield Fire Department chief for many years and is now the assistant chief.
How has your business changed over time?
We started ordering beans through a broker. We belong to a Facebook group of coffee roasters and saw a post about the Legacy Farms. An American couple saw the farm was for sale and decided to take the leap and buy it. They taught the farmers to grow other crops besides the beans so they would have food year round, as well as livestock. They pay their employees more than other coffee farms do and we liked that philosophy and people love the coffee.
We produce by the order; we don’t stock it up. That hasn’t changed and won’t change. Coffee begins to lose its flavor after seven days, so all the coffee you buy at the store is probably at least six months old, and has lost its flavor. That’s why our fresh coffee is so appealing to our customers.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
Diana: Do your research and know everything you need to know about a business.
To roast the coffee, Dan uses a large coffee roaster that runs on propane. It heats up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and he places the beans in a round basket, then in the roaster. The beans spin as they’re roasting, changing from a greenish bean color to the brown color we see in the store.
Then the beans begin to pop, shedding an outer skin, which makes good ground cover for chickens, Dan said. They give the bags of coffee skins to a neighbor for his chickens, so nothing gets wasted.
After the beans are done roasting, they are poured out of the roaster and into a basket where they continue to pop as they cool. Before they cool completely, flavoring is added, if needed. Then they are placed in plastic containers to “de-gas” before being packaged whole or ground and packaged.
They joined the Specialty Coffee Association and plan to put their coffee into an international competition.