Thursday, June 4, 2009
Local Love Fridays: "Return to Your Senses" - RoosRoast Free Speech Coffee
"Make your own version of things." This was John Roos trying to sum up the philosophy of University of Michigan's School of Art and Design, but it might as well have been John Roos speaking about himself.
This is why I wanted to feature John Roos of RoosRoast Free Speech Coffee in my debut piece of Local Love Fridays.
Each Friday, I will be highlighting another local business.
Why am I doing this? Well, for a few reasons:
a. I think if we lose our creative diversity and each location looks the same due to corporate globalization, then we will have a very sad, same world.
b. I live in Michigan. We have a GREAT state with a lot to offer. I want to share that with everyone non-Michigan.
c. I want to share all our great products with Michiganders. I want all of us living here to patronize our local Michigan businesses. I want us to help each other pull out of this economic hole we've been in. I want us to realize that there is life beyond automobiles.
I'd love it if other bloggers, Michigan and otherwise, posted their own versions of "local love" and we can learn from each other just how many wonderful, creative, brave, small-business owners are out there - everywhere. Feel free to grab the button and join right in!
Okay... so enough about the feature. On to our featured business:
Photo Credit: ©2009 Stephen Kinnard photography
"Return to your senses."
That's what John Roos tells students in his coffee roasting classes. John Roos loves his coffee. You can see, smell and taste the love in every cup. (There's literally love in every cup as John's chief taster is his wife, Kath, whom John says has a "simply amazing palate" and John, with 20 years as a professional chef, should know amazing palates). You can see it in his commitment to only use Fair Trade beans.
John would like everyone to really get down and dirty with their coffee - smell it, run their fingers through it, look at the different textures of the beans. Coffee should be a sensual experience, and he takes the monikker of "Free Speech" coffee seriously.
In John Roos's eyes, coffee may just have created the Industrial Revolution and certainly helped The Age of Enlightenment along. "Before coffee, everyone drank grog. Coffee houses allowed people to really start playing with ideas." He went on to discuss his other ideas behind "Free Speech" coffee: homage to his Ann Arbor hippie-background upbringing and to the fact that people talk more when they have coffee.
John's odyssey to the coffee business has taken him through careers and side trips as a professional chef, artist, poet, and more recently, as a Subaru salesman. The Subarus led him, more fully, to the coffee. He arrived back in Ann Arbor in 2002 needing a break from restaurants, but obsessed with coffee: an obsession that began with a perfect cup of coffee at "Grandma's House" in Maui in 1990. The Subaru job was more of a challenge/joke to himself, but he enjoyed it, and began giving his home-roasted brews to folks who bought cars. Soon folks were coming in for coffee, rather than the cars, and John decided he could take this full time.
Here he is in used car salesman regalia at the Farmers Market this past Saturday (John is the one in the middle):
The artistry and love from John Roos is in every RoosRoast bag: John's art is on each and every bag, his love of words is clear from his use of batch names such as Lobster Butter Love or Rich French Neighbor, and the proof of his love of coffee is in every, addicting, delicious cup.
I'm an addict.
At the moment, I'm particularly addicted to a batch of Fair Trade (like all of John's coffee) Rwandan beans roasted on May 29th.
To learn more about RoosRoast Free Speech Coffee go here.
For those lucky enough to live in our area, you can find RoosRoast Free Speech Coffee and John at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market on Saturdays, and you can find the coffee sold at the People's Food Co-op (it's sold in Cafe Verde, next to the pastry case), Sparrow Meat Market, The Produce Station and at the 777 Building in the 777's Cafe (where they brew it). For those who don't live in the area, you can still order RoosRoast here.
Stephen Kinnard is a local photographer whose portfolio work can be found here, and whose photo of the day can be found here. I am greatly indebted to him for the use of his wonderful photo today.