When Jay joined the business in 2009, he did so with a focus on roasting in-house and selling their coffee wholesale. Customers could then make Baxter’s coffee from the comfort of their own home.
Up until then, they were sourcing their coffee from another roasting company. Roasting it themselves would give them more freedom to develop their product.
They found roasting equipment on eBay, so they took a truck all the way to Kansas City to pick it up. Once they had the equipment, they had to figure out how to source their own beans. They eventually found a coffee bean importer that sourced the beans from multiple countries, including Costa Rica. The importer took care of getting the beans to Kentucky. Then Jay was able to start the roasting process. The first time they roasted their own batch, they burnt the whole thing.
“You could barely see our faces because of the smoke,” Jay joked.
From then, it came down to learning, trial and error, testing, and feedback. Jay worked for 18 months to get where they wanted to be. They took their time so that their customers wouldn’t experience any disruption in the quality of their coffee. They wanted to get it just right.
“We wanted to match the taste profile of what we were already doing so the customers wouldn’t be upset,” Jay said. “There’s a lot of chemistry behind it.”
Roasting their own coffee beans also came with new connections. Even though the importer took care of getting the beans to Kentucky, the family wanted to see where their coffee was coming from. Jay and his family were able to visit the Costa Rican farmers who were providing the beans on several occasions.
Their importer took them around to the different farms so they could see the harvesting process and greet the farmers. Going to another country, they didn’t know what to expect. They found that the farmers had a deep appreciation for the impact their partnership had.
Like Baxter’s, the local farmers were all family businesses.
“Most of them have three generations working on the farm,” Jay said. “Before the importer came and started buying coffee from the families, their income was just nothing. The importer told me they prioritized sustainability. They were all about paying the farmers and the families what their product was worth.”
This has such an impact on the families financially that one of the families even named their son after one of the importer’s employees.
They took their time, did their research, and they made sure they knew where their product was coming from. By 2012, they had the process down and were ready for wholesale.