Thursday, October 27, 2011

A fresh-brewed idea for writers!

So I have this friend who is not only a fellow Christian, fellow mommy, and fellow writer, but a fellow coffee lover! And she's hardcore because not only does she live on the stuff, she MAKES HER OWN! How cool is that?

Please allow me the pleasure of introducing you to SARAH VARLAND and...her amazing coffee business! (isn't she adorable?!)

(I know my blog is random at times and interviewing someone about their coffee is perhaps the most random of all, but hey, what writer doesn't need coffee? There's not many of them, and what makes Sarah's coffee extra special is the story behind it.)

Hi Sarah! Welcome to my blog ;)

First things first...I have to know, what first prompted you, as a busy wife and mom and writer and part time teacher, to look up and say "hey, I think I'll start a coffee business today!"

First of all, I love coffee. Like, to a degree that I can't explain. That's what started it. I had thought several months before that someone should start a coffee company that specialized in decaf. Well, one day I was thinking about part-time jobs and whether I could find one where I could be home with my son and I realized that it would be silly to find a 'work at home' idea that I could do, make money at and dread every day when I could follow my passion for coffee and maybe make a business of that instead.

Great way of thinking! That's what I did too by taking on freelance writing for my local newspaper and editing. So, what is your personal favorite blend of coffee?

From my coffee? It's actually a roast--it's the Peru. That one is so unbelivably dark with notes of dark chocolate and a hint of smokiness and makes me think I could keep drinking decaf forever just to enjoy that flavor. In the world in general...probably Sumatra.

Awesome. So, on the rare occasion you don't drink your own amazing coffee nector, what do you order at Starbucks?

I'm kind of bipolar at Starbucks. Either I order a mocha (with whip, because, really, why pretend a mocha is healthy at all?) which my husband calls 'Frou-Frou coffee', or I order an Americano (espresso and hot water) and drink it black. It just depends on the mood I'm in and the kind of day I've had.

Please allow me to hang onto my misguided notion that mochas really are negative in calories ;) Okay so what kind of coffee do you personally NOT enjoy?

Wait--it's possible to not enjoy a coffee? Haha. I've never tried Turkish coffee, you know, where it's espresso-like but has the grounds in it. I'm not so sure about that. Also Starbuck's Christmas blend tastes like drinking a Christmas tree to me. Not that I've ever tasted 'tree'. Just saying.

Sure, sure. Whatever you say. hehe. Okay here's the part we all wanna know - why decaf?

When I found out I was pregnant with my son several years ago, I was super excited (about him) and not excited (about drinking DECAF, which in my mind was code for flavorless black liquid trying unsuccessfully to masquerade as coffee). Since I love coffee, though, decaf was better than nothing. After a while of drinking decaf I started to get bored with the two different decaf options that I had available. My husband kept getting regular coffee and every time he ran out of one bag, he had another different roast or blend to try. For me it was just the same. Over and over and over. I wondered why no one had thought to specialize in making decaf coffee with a wide variety of roasts or flavors. I thought about how much I would have liked to have the freedom to try new coffees when I was 'banished' to drinking decaf. That's really what made us focus on decaf. There are lots of roasters out there making good coffee, but not a lot of roasters making good decaf coffee (which actually tastes like regular. Honest).

Genius!! That's so awesome you found a niche and are trying to fill it. I bet mothers worldwide will soon be thanking you! So, do you ever plan to offer regular coffee too and not just decaf?

We are keeping that possibility in mind. Our goal right now is to offer a variety of specifically decaf coffees so that people who are drinking decaf will have more options. However, we have some popular blends and roasts that I think we'll eventually do with caffeinated beans.

How often do you drink coffee? Be honest now ;)

It depends on the day. It's safe to say at least once a day. Sometimes twice. Sometimes three times. But whenever I do have coffee, it lasts a long time. I'm the slowest coffee drinker I know so if I brew some in the morning I sip from it all morning long while I do things around the house or read or chase my toddler around (that last one's tricky because it means I have to keep the coffee away from him and he's a fan of it already...)

I hear ya, Mommy. What dessert goes best with coffee for you personally?

It depends on the coffee roast or blend, actually. In roasting my own coffee I've kind of a developed a system for tasting it and writing down important characteristics about the coffee, you know, with those fancy coffee terms like "acidity" and "body" and all that. Well, my favorite category on this list I have is where I write down the dessert the coffee would go best with. There are some coffees (and desserts for that matter) that go well with anything, but there are some that really have their flavors highlighted by certain desserts. So it depends. In general though, I love rich things like key lime pie or cheesecake with my coffee. I drink my coffee black, so really sweet desserts bring the flavor out in a nice, sweet way.

If you ever needed a taste tester to match coffees with desserts, give me a ring. I'd be happy to sacrifice for you, you know, as a friend. So who likes coffee more - you or your husband?

Haha, we both love it, so it's hard to say. But I'm the one who got him started drinking it, so I guess we'll go with me.

Girls should always win anyway ;) Okay, back to business. Sarah, how can fellow moms and writers get the most of your coffee offerings?

I would say getting the most out of them would involve choosing the right roast or blend, first. If you look at our website, there's a page (titled 'Coffee Menu') that gives details about our coffees. If you look over that and you still aren't sure which you would like best, feel free to email us! Everyone's tastes are different, but if you tell us a little about what kinds of coffee you like and don't like we should be able to help you find a roast you absolutely love. Also, make sure you make your coffee correctly. In my opinion, you shouldn't be able to see through a freshly brewed pot of coffee. Of course, I also think the spoon should stand up in it, so use your own judgement as well. =)

HAHAHA! My dad would love your way of coffee thinking. So, what do you do in your spare time when you're not entertaining your baby or teaching or doing laundry or cooking dinner or making awesome coffee blends for customers?

Well, sometimes I drink some of those awesome coffee blends and read a good novel. I also love to write, hike, shop, and kayak when I get the chance.

What a well rounded chick! Awesome. Thanks so much for telling us about your new business venture, Sarah! We wish you well!

Guys, if you want to order some of this stuff, check out Sarah's website here at

Remember, it'd make great Christmas gifts for fellow writers in your life ;)

1 comment:

Elizabeth Byler Younts said...

How awesome! We haven't made it a business at all but my husband and I have been roasting our own coffee with a personal roaster and buying green beans online for 6 years! We absolutely love it & have enjoyed learning about the beans we buy all over the world and finding new ways to roast them and we only either press them or do pour over brewing here (ew). We are actually going to plan our 10th wedding anniversary trip around the 2 extracurricular things we love the most...books & coffee! We'd love to visit some of the places we buy coffee from or go coffee tasting somewhere. ;-) Great post!