Sept. 25, 2014
Why You Roast - Marshall Hance
Marshall Hance is a "Get Action" sort of individual; on the go, driven, and endlessly curious. Like many in roasting at home or in shops, Marshall is a tinkerer. Putting things together is a passion, but putting them together for a reason is the true draw. In the case of Mountain Air Roasting in Ashville, NC, that reason is excellence in coffee. Knowing that Marshall comes from a background of building his own roasters and roasting for himself I wanted to know what drove him to do it professionally and if that pursuit had any impact on his love of roasting in the first place.
CS: How did you start roasting coffee?
MH: I started roasting just a few weeks after reading about it when I realized roasting was what I was supposed to be doing instead of turning wrenches at a bicycle shop. That bike shop was actually my first customer, and five years later I still enjoy making deliveries to my friends there.
CS: Do you believe in the idea of the freedom and independence of being a small business owner?
MH: I'm not sure if freedom and independence are a reason to be a small business owner. I'm certain my life was much more free and independent with a "normal" 40hr a week job. While I do feel captain of my own ship, it takes away from other favorite pursuits such as riding bicycles and cooking dinner. Ideally, I would roast about 15 batches a day, 5 days a week. I enjoy getting into the groove but not breaking my back.
CS: What do you like most about roasting?
MH: I think the combination of introverted precision and tastiness of product were the most interesting aspects of roasting to me. The fact that a roasting business is smoothly scalable from roasting for one’s self to roasting thousands of pounds a day was a draw; knowing that I could find where I fit in the market and build a business to compete seemed to offer tremendous opportunity.
CS: What roasting devices or set ups have you used?
MH: At this point in time, the only roasting machines I've used are the ones I've built. They've all been rotating fluid bed hot air roasters, scaling up from 1/2 lb, 2lb, 6lbs, and finally 15lbs batch size. Each step up, the byproducts of roasting were more than I had...