I’ve been roasting coffee, for myself and for customers for about 12 years now. Entering the specialty coffee arena, particularly the roasting aspect of it, is much more than hobby or business. To those of us who become immersed in the process and culture of coffee roasting, it becomes a big part of who we are. It’s not unlike joining the motorcycle culture; I don’t just ride bikes, I’m a rider and my whole life reflects that choice. Same with coffee roasting. I don’t just roast coffee, I’m a coffee roaster. It is who I am and what I do…at least part of the time. I think about it a lot. I smell like it…a lot! I’m constantly criticizing my work and trying to improve. In fact, I’m committed enough to being a better roaster that I just made a deal to acquire a 1lb sample roaster to hone my craft on; not a small expense. One thing I can assure you, we don’t get into the coffee business, nor stay in it, because it makes a lot of money…because it doesn’t!
But I didn’t start today’s entry to talk about myself. I want to talk to you about someone else. Someone who shares my same passion for the world of coffee. When I started my first roasting business in Indiana, I had a lot of advantages in terms of time and space. When I moved to Kentucky and decided to start roasting again, I had neither. The job that brought me here demanded most of my time and I had no convenient space to claim as my shop. No matter how much I wanted to buy a roaster, rent a shop and go at it, I knew I did not have the time nor resources to support it.
Enter my friend Chris Cockrell and his wife Leah. Chris and I met back when I was building B-town Beans, my organic roasting business in Bloomington, IN. Chris somehow heard about the nonsense I was doing up there (like offering 17 different organic coffees…fool I was!), so he came to visit. We became friends and kept in occasional contact. Chris and Leah began roasting coffee in LaGrange, KY about the same time I did in Bloomington. Over the years they have built their labor of love, LaGrange Coffee Roasters.
When I decided to start another business, I began to plot and plan how I could launch Motorhead Coffee. I visited several shops and put out feelers, hoping to find the right opportunity. I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but somewhere along the way Chris agreed to let me use his shop in LaGrange to roast Motorhead Coffee. Now, if you are not in the coffee business yourself, you probably don’t realize just how remarkable that decision was. I dabbled in the microbrewery business briefly and they appear to be a group that enjoys collaborating and learning from one another. Not so with coffee roasters. They can be a very protective and private bunch, like as if they have some major secrets to hide. I’m going to let you in on a coffee roasting secret right now: you can go to a garage sale, pick up a used hot air popcorn popper, buy some quality green coffee online and, without knowing much of anything about it at all, produce a coffee that is better than anything on your grocer’s shelf…no joke.
Back to Chris and Leah and Motorhead Coffee. They welcomed me to their shop in LaGrange with open arms. They gave me the run of the place. I mean, really, who does that? So, for nearly a year now, Motorhead Coffee has been churning out product by mooching space and equipment from Chris and Leah. Just a couple weeks ago, they changed locations of their shop to Main Street. The space is beautiful and I had the opportunity to roast in the new digs this past weekend for the first time…well, three times! I have to admit, standing in that shop, I was a bit envious of what they have built.
So if you ever wonder where “my shop” is, or where “Motorhead Coffee” calls home, for now at least, Motorhead exists strictly because of the generosity of Chris and Leah Cockrell and LaGrange Coffee Roasters. If you are out riding your bike or driving your car through LaGrange, be sure and stop by the shop and see “where the magic happens.”