GALVA — Possibility smells like roasted coffee beans to Richard Unruh, who opened Rustic Roastery in Galva’s Woodbury Market in May.
Unruh was not a fan of coffee until a mission trip to Mexico in 2011 put him near a volcanic area where it was grown.
“I’ve been around coffee my whole life and never really liked it that well, because it was just this generic, ordinary thing that tasted nasty when it got cold,” Unruh said.”...I learned that when you get coffee freshly roasted and then grind it and brew it in controlled conditions, it can really turn into something different.”
After returning to McPherson County, Unruh did not want to travel to Wichita to get resh-roasted coffee, so he started buying green coffee beans and roasting them himself in his garage.
“I started experimenting with lighter roasts and different roasts levels of the same coffee,” Unruh said.
His quest for perfecting roasting levels led him to start selling coffee wholesale as Rustic Roastery, which now provides single origin and blends, mostly from Central and South America, of more than a dozen coffees.
“I’ve pretty much been doing it as a second income for two years,” Unruh said.
Unruh chooses his coffee beans based on price, taste and customer demand.
“They all have just a slightly different characteristic,” Unruh said.
He works for uniformity and consistency in his blends and uses data-logging software to monitor variables while roasting five to 25 pounds of coffee at a time.
“It takes about 12 minutes per batch,” Unruh said. “You don’t want to overdo it. It’s really a pretty detailed process.”
Unruh’s quest is to get the most flavor that a coffee bean can offer.
“That’s really my job, to find the best way to roast a particular coffee,” Unruh said. “It’s a challenge to me and it’s interesting. I enjoy it.”
What sets Rustic Roastery apart from other roasters is a focus on lighter roasts of coffee.
“A lot of the older roasters have not caught on to the lighter roasting techniques or wanted to take those risks,” Unruh said. “Lighter roasting can be somewhat risky... if you don’t get the coffee developed well enough, it has an off, grassy flavor to it. That’s always a challenge when you’re roasting — to find that peak point of flavor and development.”
Coffee drinkers are seeking out local roasteries, a demand that is filtering from Kansas City’s coffee culture to McPherson County.
“So much is accomplished with coffee in your hand; from business meetings to getting your day started to even relaxing in the evening,” Unruh said.
Unruh applied for McPherson Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneurship Community Loan program to open an eatery and coffee bar in Woodbury Market where he also retails his coffee. The Rustic Roastery space houses his roasting equipment in a back room and a coffee bar and food counter out front.
Rustic Roastery’s menu includes fruit smoothies, lemonade, tea, breakfast sandwiches and burritos, pastries, lunch sandwiches and salads — and, of course, a variety of espresso and coffee beverages.
Unruh said the restaurant rotates its coffee offerings, brewing up two or three flavors per day.
“We try to get something a little unique and new in front of people and that way we’re exposing them to something a little different,” Unruh said.
Rustic Roastery also features a drive-through window and a loft with seating for its customers.
To serve its commercial clients, Rustic Roastery offers coffee-brewing machines and delivery of freshly-ground coffee beans.
His enterprise is ambitious, Unruh admits, but he said he believes McPherson County can support it.
“Instead of a passion for coffee, I almost see it more as a vision for what the economy can sustain, and I enjoy doing it. So, hey, why not give it a whirl,” Unruh said.
Unruh already has plans to expand into a yet-to-be-built extension to Woodbury Market and give up Rustic Roastery’s current space to Tin Roof Pantry.
“Our foot traffic would help them; their foot traffic would help us and there would be a synergy,” Unruh said.
Rustic Roastery is located in Woodbury Market, 305 Highway 56 in Galva. For more information, visit https://www.rusticroastery.net or call 620-654-6372.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.