Staff Stories: Judah

Staff Stories: Judah

Hi, I’m Judah, co-owner and coffee roaster at Beam Roast Coffee. As someone who was born and raised in Decatur, AL, I’m excited for the opportunity of being able to open a coffee roastery here. I’m passionate about high quality coffee that tastes great, and I love enjoying great coffee around a table with friends and family. I’m hoping to provide a place at Beam Roast Coffee where people can come and relax with a great cup of coffee and enjoy one another’s company. 

How it all began

Ever since I can remember I’ve been fascinated by coffee. Some of my earliest memories involve waking up early with my mom and watching the sunrise from the back porch of our house in Decatur. My mom always had a cup of coffee in hand during those early mornings. I remember thinking that coffee must be really good because my parents seemed to drink it all the time. I didn’t realize at the time that it was probably because of us kids that they drank so much coffee…

I’ll never forget trying my first cup of coffee as a kid while on vacation. It was a cup of stale, hotel lobby coffee that was probably terrible, but I loved it. I just loved the idea of finally being able to drink coffee like the grownups. I think I loved the idea of coffee more than that particular cup of coffee.

Introduction to Specialty Coffee

As the years went on, I drank coffee the only way I knew how: “doctored” with cream and sugar, or heavily flavored lattes and cappuccinos. It wasn’t till I was in college when I had my first single origin coffee at a specialty coffee shop. I had never really been able to drink coffee black, but my friend Kris told me I should at least try it black before adding any cream and sugar. I took a sip and was blown away. I had no idea that coffee could be so flavorful by itself. 

Drinking my first single origin coffee opened a whole new world for me, and reinvigorated my fascination of coffee. I wanted everyone to experience how flavorful coffee can be. Over time I would add new ways of brewing coffee to my happy place: our home coffee bar. My wife Julia and I always enjoyed serving our friends and family coffee when they visited. I enjoyed it so much that it became a dream that I would open my own coffee shop to serve my community.

Introduction to coffee roasting

My fascination of coffee didn’t stop at brewing tasty coffee. I began to research what made some coffees taste different than others, which led to learning about different roasting techniques and coffee origins. I bought a sample pack of unroasted coffee beans from different origins, put them in a Whirley-pop popcorn popper, put it on the stovetop and started cranking. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it. 

The first few batches of coffee were not good, but I learned what I was doing wrong with each roast, and over time I actually was able to produce drinkable coffee from that Whirley-pop. Especially after heavily modifying it with temperature probes and a drill to do the cranking for me.

Starting Beam Roast Coffee

I was enjoying roasting coffee for friends and family so much that I decided to start a small side business selling coffee. I bought a small coffee roaster and began the process of setting up my business under the Cottage Food Law, which allowed me to sell coffee roasted out of my home. That was a great way for me to get started, but I soon realized that I would need a larger roaster if I was ever going to expand any further. 

I told Julia this and she mentioned that she noticed a small restaurant space had just come up for rent about five minutes from our house. I couldn’t believe the timing. We went and looked at the place, came to an agreement with the landlord and started the process of setting up a coffee roastery. What made it extra special was the restaurant used to be the pro shop for Cedar Ridge golf course where my grandfather often played golf. 

The Future Beams Bright

Now that we’ve setup a roastery and have officially opened our coffee shop I can’t help but be struck by the way my coffee-related experiences over the years have led us to where we are now. From my early memories of my mom drinking coffee on our back porch to now opening a coffee roastery literally down the very road from the house I grew up in, each experience feels like it’s built upon itself and informed not just my experience of coffee, but how I share that experience with others. My hope is that people will see the care we put into serving high quality, freshly roasted coffee, and will accept us into the community here in Decatur, AL.

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