602 N. Cora St. Ridgway, 970/626-BEAN
For many coffee geeks, pouring hot water over freshly ground coffee beans can be a beautiful thing. If the coffee is truly fresh, the ground beans will release carbon dioxide, bubbling up in what aficionados call the bloom.
Whether pouring water over grounds in a French press, a Chemex, an AeroPress or a classic pour-over system, releasing a good bloom from the grounds is a visual sign that the coffee you are about to taste has been freshly roasted and, thus, the flavors will be fresh as well.
Because coffee beans release carbon dioxide on their own after roasting, finding freshly roasted beans in your local grocery store that’s been roasted in the past ten to fourteen days can be tough. The fact of the matter is that many of the coffee beans we buy in grocery stores are actually stale and fail at bringing a lively cup of coffee to the breakfast table. It’s the reason why many coffee junkies have sought out local roasters or, actually, started roasting coffee beans at home with various contraptions.
Leaving the home roasting contraptions aside, the region – from Telluride to Montrose – has a few local roasters and finding freshly roasted coffee is not an impossibility. In fact, the region has a number of roasters who are putting out great varieties of beans and all are as fresh as can be.
Exotic Earth Coffee Roasters in Ridgway, with its expanding region-wide distribution list and its quaint location where you can enjoy a fresh cup of coffee while picking up fresh beans, has come into its own since opening its doors at its location in the Ridgway Park industrial complex just over a year ago.
Exotic Earth’s partnering ownership of Rich and Karen Avery and Dan and Julie Wesseling work with traders in Oakland, Calif., who are able to source organic, shade-grown fair trade coffee beans from equatorial locations around the world. Exotic Earth is dedicated to buying green coffee beans from suppliers who not only work to preserve the environment that produces the coffee but also improves the livelihood of the growers.
Using a Diedrich roaster, Exotic Earth roasts about 150 pounds of beans a week, then blending, often grinding, bagging and then delivering the coffee to a growing number of hotels, restaurants and retail shops around the region including the North Fork Valley, Ouray and Telluride.
Exotic Earth has a number of blends that have become very popular including its House Blend (dark), the Raise the Dead Blend of three exotic varieties (full bodied dark), and the White Knuckle Blend, which is a robust blend especially suited for espresso.
If you are looking to taste a single origin variety, Exotic Earth has what you need as well, including East Timor (dark, rich, full bodied); Guatemalan La Laguna (medium roast, relaxed); Sumatran (dark and flavorful); and Ethiopian Sidamo (dark, spicy, distinctive).
Full of scales, label makers, newly arrived bags of beans, buckets of freshly roasted beans and grinders, the back of Exotic Earth’s operation is just that: a local coffee roasting operation that’s growing and getting its products out.
The front, retail half is bright, new and inviting. It’s a place you want to hang out and enjoy a cup of fresh coffee, especially when you know the coffee you are drinking is being roasted a mere 10 steps away. Photos of brightly colored green and red coffee beans, and African women dressed in equally brightly colored garb, tell the tale of the Averys’ recent travels to Ethiopia, where they visited several coffee plantations to see for themselves how their product is grown.
Don’t go to Exotic Earth thinking you are going to order a double tall skinny vanilla latte. Coffee, straight up, is what’s being served. Perhaps the most rewarding part of visiting Exotic Earth is you can pick up fresh roasted beans right from the source. There’s no harm in asking when their bulk beans were roasted. Perhaps, they’ll get you a pound of beans that was roasted the night before.
It’s reassuring to know that when you want a fresh brewed cup at home – no matter what your apparatus is – you can get beans that will offer a full bloom and full, complex flavors. Fight the war on mediocre coffee and just say no to stale beans.
PRICES: Bulk beans are .75 cents per ounce; $9.50 per 12-ounce bag; or a one-pound bag is $12.65.
GROWING: Keep an eye out for Exotic Earth Coffee at the region’s retail markets. You never know where this local roasting company’s coffee will be on the shelf next.
Open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.