As a follow-up to last week’s exciting announcement, let’s do a quick recap before learning more: Justin and Allison, founders of Dark Heart Coffee Bar, have officially turned their dream of roasting and providing Dark Heart’s own specialty coffee into a reality!
As you might have seen in the cafe and online, Dark Heart has been low-key roasting small batch specialty coffee out of Loveland, Colorado. From blends featuring full body chocolates and complex sweetness, to a beautifully balanced richness and crisp acidity, there’s no other way to put it- Dark Heart is making magic.
And with this exciting announcement, naturally, I wanted to know more. If you know the founders, then you know ounces and ounces of love were sewn into the development of their roasting practice. This practice was backed by a variety of reasons, and below, we explore the incredible and passionate story behind their venture.
Let’s delve into the bean, baby.
Why Roast #1: The Intimate Relationship with Coffee
Dark Heart is committed to the continuing education of all things coffee, and let’s be real- roasting is the ultimate way to strengthen and grow one’s coffee knowledge. Justin and Allison are in love with what coffee can be, if treated well, and according to Justin, “it’s impossible to roast coffee and not have an extremely intimate relationship with so many things about that specific coffee.”
Let’s talk about that intimacy. Justin states that “a roaster must have knowledge of plant variety, traits those plants are known for, how they affect roasting, and in the end, flavor. Developing an understanding for what the farmer and his family or employees go through each year, to produce a certain coffee, becomes an incredible undertaking that you can’t help but gain a huge amount of respect for. In specialty coffee, these farmers are not in it for the money, but for the love of creating something special. Even knowledge of how the supply chain works, with importing from these countries and adding some direct trade relationship to the mix, presents its own unique challenges. It’s not as easy as going to the store, browsing a shelf, and choosing what you wish to invest in. Going through these steps really strengthens your bond with that coffee.”
Why Roast #2: Challenge and Growth
Dark Heart is always looking for ways to challenge and grow. And as previously stated, challenges and growth are all a part of continuing education… and the passionate commitment to serving the best coffee in Colorado, if I say so myself.
The Reals were looking for a way to challenge their passion and craft, and instead of opening another location, they created something unique and worthwhile. “We’ve always had a slightly different goal than most cafes, in that we are not necessarily thinking of opening more locations. We’ve had countless opportunities and meetings to do just that and expand our presence, but it’s never felt quite like the right step. We’ve always wanted to be the best at what we do at one cafe. Refining the process at our cafe is a constant and daily work in progress. Still, we felt we needed a challenge and a way to build our strength, without growing outwardly. So, we dove into roasting.”
Why Roast #3: Truly Special Coffees
Before they began roasting, they felt as if the world of roasting was mysterious and slightly intimidating. But, regardless of the unknown, they took the leap.
“Once we took the first step and chatted with some very well-known roasters for the most popular companies in the world, something became clear- little by little, I learned about the demand they have, and I learned the common theme. If this well-known roaster has a need for 20,000 lbs of a coffee, which literally may only last them one week, but the farmer they want to work with only produces 1,500 lbs of this coffee, then that’s his entire farm. Well, the larger, well-known roaster has to pass on this coffee, as the 1,500 will not help their demand. This is where our smaller company can come in. Now, this 1,500 lbs of a stellar, high-scoring coffee will be plenty for us for quite some time, and we are granted the opportunity to offer something truly amazing that the larger company cannot. This isn’t to say that these companies are not getting great coffees. Of course they are, but it became clear, very quickly, that we have access to even more truly special coffees than they do, just based on the supply and demand principle. So, this was a foundational piece to us adding ourselves into the mix. We plan to continue offering other roasters from around the world, but we are also going to be part of that mix.”
Why Roast #4: In Our Hands
Since the day Dark Heart opened, there have been challenges. (Check out the article, A Coffee Shop Resilience Inspires Our Own.)
“From product supply challenges thrown at us on a consistent basis, to vendor mixups, delivery problems, billing mistakes, and order issues, things happen. So, roasting our own coffees is another way to cut down the amount of moving parts, toward minimizing supply problems that can happen.”
Well hell yes to that, Justin and Allison!
From Dreams to Reality
And so my Dark Heart friends, it’s official; Dark Heart is roasting, and it’s about time you grab yourself a bag of what dreams are made of. Personally, I’m a sucker for Dawn to Dusk. It’s Dark Heart’s comfort coffee, and if you are taking your pops to grab a cup, then you are in luck- it’s approachable for everyone. It’s delicious black, and I get wild with mine and add a splash of Oatly. Maybe a little sugar on a sweet day.
Thanks for diving in, Justin and Allison, and congratulations! We are so excited to swim in your sea of small batch specialty coffee!
And during your next home brew or visit to our sacred spot, don’t forget to tag @darkheartcoffeebar. The team would love to see your cups, smiles, and joy!