A Toast to Coffee Roasters

Shots of Clyde’s Coffee Roasting Company’s own beans are served at its Stateline, Nev., café | Courtesy Clyd’s Coffee Roasting Company

Who doesn’t love waking up to the rich aroma of coffee on a cold winter morning? The wake-up call is a ritual for many of us — 150 million Americans have a yen for java. And, Tahoe has become new grounds for coffee roasting around the region with even more percolating than ever before.

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Robin Dworkin of Coffee Connexion in Tahoe City has been roasting since 1996. Her roasting facility located in Lake Forest sports her Airbed Roaster, built by her late husband, Jeff.

“The coffee dances like popcorn as it roasts. It creates a smoother roast with no bitterness,” Dworkin says.

“Roasting coffee is an art form. Every batch of green beans comes from a different area and every yield has a different flavor depending on the soil, rain and how many yields the tree produced.”
–Marlo Quillin

She roasts her coffee beans for 10 to 13 minutes. She uses different recipes and temperatures to create Coffee Connexion’s blends and single origins. Her most popular blend is the house blend, which is a combination of Vienna and French beans.

“It offers the kick of the light, which is highly caffeinated, and dark-roast flavor,” she says.

Dozens of coffee bean varieties roasted in Tahoe City await customers at Coffee Connexion. | Priya Hutner

The shelves of her Tahoe City shop offers 10 single origins and eight blends of coffee with a large selection of organic flavors. The shop uses a traditional drip-brewing method.

Truckee’s Dark Horse Coffee Roasters has been roasting coffee for a few years. The blends are rich, dark and delicious. Drew Taylor has created a cult following and devoted coffee fan base. He offers drip, press, cold brews and espresso drinks.

Sierra Pacific Coffee is another Truckee-based coffee roaster that started in 2015 and sells wholesale.

Two new kids on the roasting block are Craig and Marlo Quillin of Clyde’s Coffee Roasting Company and Nick Visconti’s Drink Coffee Do Stuff.

The Quillins are committed to roasting crafted coffee and employ a Turkish roaster for their beans at their cafe in Stateline, Nev., which opened in May 2017.

Bags of coffee await roast at Drink Coffee Do Stuff. | Priya Hutner

“Roasting coffee is an art form. Every batch of green beans comes from a different area and every yield has a different flavor depending on the soil, rain and how many yields the tree produced. We dial in the perfect flavor and roast for each bean. Gone are the days of burned coffee beans,” says Marlo. “The most important thing for us is sustainability — making sure that we get our coffee from suppliers that pay farmers a fair rate.”

Their popular roasts include Gunbarrel, named after the Heavenly Ski Run; Cowboy Coffee, a dark, rich, old-fashioned style blend and Tahoe Morning Blend, a light-to-medium roast. Clyde uses a drip system for his coffee.

Visconti operates his roasting facility for Drink Coffee Do Stuff near the Truckee Tahoe Airport. Visconti led me into his roasting lair. His roasting machine is a big, shiny and new. Large burlap sacks of coffee beans are stacked to the ceiling, white tables and chairs are arranged for tasting and the place smells amazing. Visconti is particular about his brewing preference and favors a Chemex pour over. He pours me a cup of his Hell Yeah blend. The brew is rich, aromatic, dark and delicious.

“I like the pour-over method. It’s a more traditional brewing method and has been used for hundreds of years. There are three main brewing methods: full immersion like the French press method, the dispersion method or pour over and drip, and the pressure method as with an espresso machine” he says.

He has been roasting and perfecting his roasts for the last five years. According to Visconti, a full immersion is full bodied and complex while the pour-over method maximizes sweetness.

“I am sourcing specialty coffee that is grown at 4,000 to 9,000 feet. It’s from mountain people for mountain people.”

He buys coffee that is grown 100 percent naturally without pesticides or fertilizers. Sourcing is important to Visconti and his brand.

“It’s an homage to the farmers and the origin itself to create an unforgettable sweet experience,” he says. “We hope to have both a local and global impact. Globally, the more coffee we sell, the more we are buying from importers that help support the farmers. The money goes to developing infrastructure, educational programs and social initiatives for the region. Locally, we want to create four-seasons jobs for four-seasons people.”

The two blends he roasts are Hell Yeah and Grampa Max, named after his grandfather.

“He was a Tahoe man who left a legacy of integrity and character. The blend is prepared with those attributes in mind,” he says. “I believe in life improvement through coffee.” Eventually, Visconti will open a café, but for now his coffee is available at drinkcoffeedostuff.com.