Monday, May 20, 2013

Passion for the Coffee Bean

Passionate People...

You just know when people are passionate about what they do. There is a physical change that comes over them as they start to talk about something they love to do. Their eyebrows go up, there is a twinkling light in their eyes, and a smile that stretches from ear to ear. In their voice is an unbridled excitement that makes you sit up and think "I am about to hear something REALLY good".

I was fortunate enough to meet some people last week who are passionate about coffee roasting.

Thanks to the bull dog persistence of my friend Jane and the graciousness of the staff at Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck/Douglas. Jane and I were about to go to their roasting facility in Douglas and take some pictures of the roasting process.

I went on this adventure with only the intention of taking some pictures and writing a blog post about the adventure, similar to Walk and Click Photo Walks that I have done in the past. Little did I know that a whole new blogging series would be born.

Meet John and Danielle.

John was the roasting instructor for our visit. He has been roasting for two years and seems to have quite the touch for it.

John went to a local university and majored in Spanish. He admitted to me he chose that because it came easy to him in high school and he wasn't really interested in anything academic. Then he said something that echoed my own words for the last two years as my daughter has struggled to decide on her major. He said "What 18 year old kid knows what they want to do for the rest of their life?" Seems like John has found his spot, at least for now.

John says his Spanish has come in handy when they go on coffee bean buying trips.

The day that Jane and I visited was a lighter load roasting day, so they were using the smaller roaster at their facility.

On heavy load roasting days they use the large roaster.

Such an interesting process to watch, and John was keeping meticulous notes.

Now while John was roasting, Danielle was extra busy bagging the roasted beans, as well as, answering the phone and working on the computer.

They stamp their own bags. As someone who has a rubber stamp or two, I had to take some shots of their stamps.

Near the end of our visit, the owner stopped by and we were fortunate enough to talk with him for a few minutes. In this conversation the passion was evident again. He has been in the coffee business for nearly 20 years now. A few years ago, he was starting to feel a little burned out in it all. Then he really started getting involved in the lives of the farmers and their families that he buys from. Those relationships have made a huge difference to him. You can read about their trips they take each year here. Also on their FaceBook page they have great pictures from their trips.

They also offer coffee classes, so if you live in the West Michigan area and love coffee, this would definitely be something to check out. I think it would be fun to go back and take pictures at one of these classes.

I want to say a BIG thank you to the staff at Uncommon Grounds for letting us come take pictures and ask questions. It was such a unique and wonderful experience.

On the way home I had to stop at their Cafe...I love their Vanilla Latte.

I also needed to buy some beans to bring home...


  1. I love the stamps! Their passion and yours really shines through in this post.

  2. This is the start of a series? You've definitely piqued my interest! This is a great post - I love the photos and learning a little about people who are passionate about what they do. Forget 18 year-olds knowing what they want - I'm still trying to figure that out...

  3. So very interesting. Great shots to help tell the story.

  4. Great ever Sarah!! I so enjoyed going there with you. You have a way of drawing out people in conversation. Great pics also!! You are a master at both crafts!

  5. I'm imagining the aroma! I've always thought coffee smelled wonderful - much better than it tasted.

  6. Oh this is very fun. You know how I love my coffee!

  7. Your photos are lovely. I ran across this series about coffee on Lifehacker JUST yesterday, you might enjoy it.

  8. Superb photo-essay here, Sarah! I love your discoveries and people-portraits. If you keep this up, you will have a fabulous portraiture series that could make for a book worthy of selling, my friend. Keep it going and you may just inspire me to get out of my comport zone and try it myself. I love how the youth of today are so much more entrepreneurial than my generation. There is a coffee shop near me run by a 27-year-old name Cory with a similar story as your John and Danielle.

  9. As someone who loves her coffee that was so interesting Sarah great new series....

  10. So fascinating ... and I'm not even a coffee drinker!

  11. Wow! This was really an enjoyable excursion. You have a knack for this type of encounter - and then turning it into an exciting blog post with your photos and words both.

    I look forward to more in the series!


  12. This is fascinating! You are so brave to not only take these wonderful images (there's people in them which terrifies me) but, you also talked to them and recorded their love for what they do! Good for you and I'm looking for more in the series!!

  13. How interesting. Thanks for the tour. I love those hand stamps waiting to be used.

  14. Ah, I finally made it has been a crazy week but I did want to stop by and say thank you for visiting my blog...a works in progress and also in was really sweet.
    Like you I am trying to meet more people through blogging and writing...with both photography and writing sharing equal space in my heart...time is my enemy though.
    I love this post...your photo's are wonderful and your interview with the owners is great...I'm going to poke around and have a look at a few more entries and another day, I'll come back..
    Have a wonderful weekend.


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)