New Coffee Roaster Passionate About Flavor

by Gabriel Cruden

Gabriel CrudenChewelah-based coffee roaster John Raymond, who just opened “395 Coffee” on October 21, talks about coffee the way a wine connoisseur talks about the aroma, flavor, and finish of a fine wine.

“Our dark roast offering uses our Mexico beans from small-scale farmers in the mountains of Chiapas and pushes them a few clicks past medium to bring out the caramel, while not scorching off the unique varietal characteristics,” says Raymond’s dark roast description on his website. “A sweet cup, led by brown sugar, buckwheat honey, and, of course, caramel. You’ll also find hints of tanned leather and barbecue smoke. Not complicated. Highly satisfying and smooth.”

And the finish?

“Looooong…to the horizon. The sweetness lingers like a needy puppy.”

Raymond was a seasonal visitor to Chewelah for some years before making the move to full time resident from Austin, Texas, where he had ready access to his favorite, freshly roasted coffee beans.
“Not everyone realizes, coffee is like bread,” Raymond asserted. “A lot of people around the world buy stale coffee. I have a very high standard, and I was used to buying coffee that was roasted yesterday.”

Initially, Raymond bought his freshly roasted beans from his Austin roaster and had them shipped. But, upon transitioning to Chewelah year-round, Raymond’s “buy local” mindset prompted him to go in search of a local source for his coffee beans. The results of that cursory search proved unsatisfactory to Raymond. Being a self-described “fast-running entrepreneurial type,” he decided that, rather than keep looking, he would launch his own coffee roasting business.

With his background in tech, education, and the nonprofit sectors, this was a new area to be delving into. Raymond noted that he could have benefited from having an advisor from the food and beverage industry, but that he did get input from people that assisted in shepherding him through the process, including what was needed for licensing the commercial kitchen he built for his operation.

“The folks at the Department of Agricultural were a big help in me scoring a hundred out of a hundred points on the licensing,” Raymond said.

The way 395 Coffee is set up, customers place their order online, Raymond gets to work on roasting what’s been ordered, and customers get their freshly roasted beans within a few days of roasting.

“Our beans never sit in a warehouse or on a store shelf,” Raymond said.

Jordan Knight

Jordan Knight of Haller Creek Farm, enjoying 395 Coffee’s freshly roasted product.

Raymond has established pick-up locations where customers can collect their orders, or customers can receive their coffee beans in the mail. Raymond plans to partner with more retailers to expand his pick-up locations from north Spokane to Kettle Falls. But to start with, he has pick-up locations at Bear Necessities, 104 E Crawford St in Deer Park, Akers United Drug, 406 N Park St in Chewelah, and Colville Chamber of Commerce, 986 S Main St Ste. B in Colville.

Raymond says his aim is not to be a volume operation, but to sell directly to the end-consumer, and to a handful of local restaurants that prioritize local and fresh.

“The mantra is ‘buy local’ and then everybody wins,” Raymond said.

To promote his new business, Raymond has been attending “shop local” events in Colville and Chewelah and, rather than selling product, giving away samples and engaging with people about their coffee stories.

“It’s obvious that there’s plenty of coffee out there,” Raymond said. “But for people that really love to savor the whole experience with an amazing cup of coffee, and on a daily basis, that is what 395 Coffee is about.”

Some might expect this to mean higher prices. Raymond asserts that his prices are competitive. His goal is “…to bring artisanal quality to coffee drinkers in the area, including those new to grinding coffee beans at home. Price should not get in the way.”

Raymond currently sources his product from wholesalers importing beans from the high elevation region of Mexico, near the border with Guatemala, and from the Democratic Republic of Congo. These are, what Raymond calls, his “daily driver” coffees.

“Even though I am a small producer, I am passionate about consistency,” Raymond said. “The customer has got to be able to come back a month later and have the same experience.”
In addition, Raymond is planning to launch a limited release coffee program, taking people around the world through their coffee cup.

“If you’re like me, you’ll want your daily driver, but you also want novelty every once in a while,” Raymond said. “I like to try new things, travel to new places. There’s great coffee from all over the world and people have different palates. I want you to enjoy these moments you are on earth.”

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