The small city of Benson, Ariz., located about 45 miles outside Tucson, is not only a desert in the climatological sense. It’s also a bit of a coffee desert as far as specialty goes. Recently, one couple has broken ground to change that with their new roasting company, Mo Coffee Roasters.
Megan and Edward Moreno remodeled their home in Benson to comply with regulations on opening a professional coffee roasting operation, which went live earlier this year.
“Benson is a pretty small town. It’s really like a bedroom community of Tucson, but doesn’t really have the Tucson influence,” Edward Moreno told Daily Coffee News. “Specialty coffee is not widely marketed in Cochise County, and is a relatively new term for the Benson area.”
Moreno said that Mo Coffee is currently the only roaster in the town of just over 5,000 people. They started on a Showtime Rotisserie oven modified to roast coffee, then stepped up to a two-pound-capacity Sonofresco. Currently, in their dedicated 365-square-foot production space they’re roasting greens sourced through Coffee Shrub, Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders and soon Café Kreyol on a San Franciscan SF6, then shipping to wholesale clients, one gift shop retail display and their own online customers.
“We do have the opportunity to serve our coffee while at events and farmers markets,” said Moreno. “Reception has been positive, and has helped many [people] recognize differences in varietal characteristics.”
Mo Coffee likes to offer a wide spectrum of roasts to their customers, catering to as many different tastes as possible, up to a point. They do draw the line at roasting in any way that unduly deteriorates a given coffee’s inherent charm.
“We want to maintain as much of an origin characteristic as possible, and for this reason we have chosen to not profile anything beyond full city+ or up to second crack,” said Moreno. “For our lighter roasts we tend to stretch the development time to enhance sweetness and subdue some of the acidity.”
Looking ahead, Mo Coffee intends simply to continue developing their wholesale program and engaging in pop-ups and events whenever possible.
“As much as we love roasting, we also take great interest in getting to know the people who choose us for their morning brew,” said Moreno, adding that the next major step is likely to be the acquisition of a proper coffee retail capsule for use at farmers markets, catering and other events. “As a small husband and wife operation with two small kids, we do not plan on a permanent establishment any time soon, but that is something in our long term goals.”