With encouraging results from their year-old, home-based roasting business in Topeka, Kan., the married couple team of Tosha and Adam Ross earlier month have extended their Caffiend brand with the opening of a flagship café earlier this month.
“We’ve just had an outpouring of community support,” Tosha Ross told Daily Coffee News. “We’re off to a good start.”
After having partnered with another local company for use of its roaster to get off the ground, Caffiend now primarily depends on a Diedrich IR1, situated in a backroom of the 550-square-foot coffeehouse. Head roaster Adam Ross brings to the task over a decade of experience roasting for fellow Topeka-based company PT’s Coffee prior to breaking out on his own. “They really broke him in, taught him a lot,” said Tosha Ross, adding, “It was a wonderful place to start and to learn, but it was time for Adam to be able to do his own thing.”
His own thing, nowadays, is essentially to pay it forward to the beans, each of which he roasts to let it do its own thing, as it were. “I try to take each coffee to where that coffee wants to be,” said Adam Ross. “It’s a bean-specific thing for me. You know, Kenyas and washed Yirgs, they like to be light and delicate; Papua New Guineas like to go a little further.”
Of course, the coffees can’t can’t literally tell him these things, but Ross said he feels he’s reached a comfort level where he has some unspoken understanding with them. “I’ve been developing flavors for a long time,” Ross said. “It’s hard for me to convey sometimes what I need to do to a coffee, but I’ll know that I just need to get another crack at it, liberate that other thing that it’s got.”
After unlocking the desired attributes of greens sourced through Café Imports and Royal Coffee in the roaster, Caffiend sets them free at the counter of their new shop with a single-group Slayer and Compaq grinders alongside a skate deck pourover station equipped with Melitta manual drippers. “I started in coffee in the ’90s, and Melitta was what I first dripped on,” said Ross. “That’s what I decided to give the people. It’s the original. We’ve got the new school espresso, and we’ve got the old school drip.”
Caffiend makes an effort to diversify its revenue streams with a slowly growing wholesale business in addition to the whole-bean retail, the shop, and some specialty coffee consulting that Ross does on the side. He said he looks forward to swapping in Mahlkonig EK43 and K30 Swift grinders when the budget is there, as well as stepping up to a Diedrich IR12 and perhaps a larger Slayer as well, the potential for all of which he sees within the next 18 months.
“I’ve been open for five days, and somebody was trying to invest money in my company today already. So it’s really kind of up to us what we do,” Ross said last week, adding that he’s after more sustainable growth. “I’ve seen things get out of hand. You want to be quality first, and not compromise that.“
Caffiend is located at 714 SW Gage Blvd in Topeka.
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.