Not Your Average Cup of Joe…It's Julian's!
Writer / Janelle Morrison
The next time you sip a cup of Brazil Cerrado from Julian Coffee Roasters, take a moment to really appreciate the labor of love that goes into each roasted bean. Located in Zionsville, Julian Coffee Roasters began 10 years ago and is the product of Ken Julian’s passion for great coffee.
“There was a roaster located at 56th and Lafayette Road,” Ken said. “I’d go there and get fresh beans. It eventually went up for sale and I put an offer on it, but thankfully, I didn’t get it and I started roasting at home. I attended the national conference for coffee roasters in Atlanta in 2003 and came home with two roasters. I got a warehouse on the west side of Indy and started my roastery. Originally, I was in medical device sales and I started roasting on the side. A little after a year from when I started the roastery, my wife and I bought Eagle Creek Coffee Company.” Eventually, all roads led him to where he is today.
Wes Kerlin, originally from Alaska, came to Indiana and started the Indy Coffee Association. He and Ken met at meetings and found that they shared a similar passion for food. “Ken made me the proverbial offer that I couldn’t refuse so I came on board,” Wes recalled. “Up to that point, I’d never worked hand-in-hand with a coffee roaster. I’ve done everything from running a coffee company with 100 employees at 6 locations, selling thousands of pounds of coffee a week, to owning my own business. I thought, this is going to be cool. Plus Ken’s a ‘foodie’ and we both like to eat.”
Ken says that he and Wes are both recovering cafe owners and that it’s a tough business. When I asked if they would consider opening another cafe in another location, Ken replied, “We’ve just made a decision that we will not get back into that unless it’s absolutely the right situation and we can do the perfect cafe.”
Wes gave me a tour of their current facility that is soon to be bursting at the seams with an assortment of coffee beans—green coffee beans and Tanzanian pea berries. Wes explained to me what a pea berry is and how it has become quite popular in the coffee industry, only after someone had discovered that they really taste good brewed.
“Tanzanian pea berries are a mutation,” Wes stated. “The cherry in the coffee shrub typically has two halves but pea berries never form into two separate halves. The ‘bean,’ which in actuality is the seed, ends up being one small dense bean.”
The wholesale cost of beans depends on what area of the world they come from. An example of Julian’s cost for a specialty grade from Brazil will be over $3.50 per lb. All of their coffees are specialty grade and they will have approximately 2,000 lbs. of coffee on hand. Soon, they will increase their stock with the signing of a new agreement with Costco Wholesale that will allow them to sell Julian Coffee at their two Indianapolis locations. Adequate space for their expansion is an issue, as they will need to house additional equipment and 4x the green coffee beans as what they store now, to service all of their accounts.
They are looking at moving to a new or existing facility that will give them the 4,000 sq. ft. they will need for warehousing and possible retail space. Once they have found their utopia, they want to install the newest thing in specialty coffee for espresso machines. “The Mod Bar, which stands for modular, is the coolest and hippest new thing out there for espresso machines,” Wes explained. “The typical espresso machine is above the counter and the mod bar, everything except for the dispenser, is below the counter, so it removes all of those barriers between the barista and the customer. It was also designed and manufactured in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Ken and Wes have a philosophy that they instill in all of their clients who resell their coffees. “We don’t just turn green beans brown,” Wes said. “We are part of a supply chain that starts with the farmers at origin, who out of everybody in the supply chain make the least money. We believe that we have a certain amount of duty to honor their efforts with what we do. A roaster or a barista can screw up good coffee and they can’t make bad coffee, good. That attitude needs to prevail all of the way down to the barista passing you your cup of coffee.”
I received a quick history from Ken, on espresso and the waves in which it came to be popular with Americans. The first wave was when the Italians brought espresso to the U.S. Then, Starbucks brought it to everybody else. The third wave is the educational process of taking specialty grade coffees, roasting them the best way possible and transferring that education to the baristas who work with the roasters to understand the coffees and the best way to prepare them. Wes added, “Ken came up with a fourth wave. The fourth wave is the third wave without a bad attitude and the pretentiousness.” For them, it’s all about respecting the whole process down to customers’ overall enjoyment of their cup of coffee.
“I love coffee,” Ken simply stated. “If I could get more wrapped into the mission part of the industry and incorporate a passion for coffee with my passion to help other people, it would be a perfect world.”
The darker the roast, the stronger the coffee – MYTH
Dark roast coffee is roasted longer and at a higher temperature than light roast coffee. The strength of your coffee is determined by the coffee-to-water ratio, not the darkness of the roast. If you want a stronger cup, add more ground coffee when brewing.
Coffee is a diuretic – MYTH
With normal consumption of three or four cups a day, studies have found the diuretic effects of coffee to be negligible. It’s only when there’s a high intake that it appears to have a diuretic effect.
Coffee can cause high blood pressure – MYTH
Habitual coffee drinkers have been shown to have similar blood pressure to non-coffee drinkers. However, some people who have not consumed coffee for a period of time and then start to drink coffee may experience a small, short-term rise in blood pressure. This rise would be no greater than that experienced when engaging in active conversation or laughing.
Keeping coffee in the refrigerator or freezer will keep it fresh – MYTH
The refrigeration or freezing of coffee produces condensation, which hastens the loss of flavor.
Caffeine is addictive – MYTH
According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence whatsoever that caffeine use has even remotely comparable physical or social consequences to those associated with serious drugs of abuse.
Your body quickly absorbs caffeine, but it also quickly gets rid of it. After 8-10 hours, about 75 percent of the caffeine has left your system.
Coffee can help sober you up – MYTH
Only time can sober you up.
Espresso has more caffeine than drip coffee – MYTH
Nobody walks into his or her favorite café and orders two ounces of drip coffee, so you cannot compare a two-ounce espresso to drip coffee. The average drip coffee purchased in America is 16 ounces. A 16-ounce drip coffee has 2.3 percent more caffeine on average than espresso-based drinks made with 2 ounces of espresso, or 2 shots. The reason comes down to the time in which the water is in contact with the coffee, the temperature at which it is brewed, the grind, and the volume.
Dark Roast coffee has less caffeine than light roast coffee – MYTH
During the roasting process very little caffeine is burned away. While roasting, the coffee beans lose moisture, as much as 20 percent for dark roast beans. Therefore, dark roast beans are lighter in weight than light roast beans. There are more beans in a bag of dark roast coffee: that is why the bags are a little bigger. You should determine your proper coffee-to-water ratio by weighing out the coffee rather than using a scoop. A cup of properly prepared dark roast coffee has more caffeine than a cup of light roast coffee. A good place to start would be .05 ounce of coffee for every ounce of water.