Coffee nerds are somewhat different from coffee junkies, those 24-hour party people. A coffee nerd seeks enlightenment in the art and the science of the perfect cup and is willing to learn the ways and usually has the means for doing so. I live with a coffee nerd and I have learned to worship at the altar of the bean. This worship of the caffeinated god has its advantages. Excellent shrines at which to celebrate with dark and steamy libations. And there are lots of other pilgrims with whom to seek enlightenment.
John Roos is one of those coffee boddhisatvas - enlightened ones who show others the way to enlightenment - who has found an excellent niche for himself. An artist, Subaru salesman, and cook, he says that his pursuit of fine coffee has brought all the parts of his life together. The class that he does on the 1st Sunday of the month is a great way to see how this could be.
The space that he has just off of Huron is part art gallery, part coffee salon, and part living room. He does his roasting just outside, in warm weather and in cold. The class starts with some of his excellent muffins and of course, cups of hot coffee (he invites you to bring your own mug) of either percolator or drip brews. John talks about the history of coffee, how it grows, and how it got to this country, complete with maps and other visual aids, before he brings you outside to talk about the process of roasting. John gets green coffee beans from individual growers (mostly from South America I think) and tries especially to work with organic and fair trade growers.
What the class lacks in stuffy curriculum, John makes up for in high-octane (caffeinated?) enthusiasm and candid responses to any questions. He loves coffee, loves making it and loves sharing it. Probably the best thing about the class is the warmth he conveys and the rare feeling of community that happens when people are all sitting around talking about and thinking about how to make something good.
In addition to learning about coffee, getting to drink a lot of it and trying different high-end kinds of just-roasted coffee, not to mention the muffin and other snacks, John sends you home with a 1/2 lb. bag of his great coffee and a warm fuzzy feeling that you'd really like to come back and sit around and drink some more coffee with him.
I see on John's website that he won't be doing a coffee class in December - instead he'll be hosting Coffee and Big Paintings. In addition to paintings, John has excellent wood block prints that he makes for printing his coffee labels. Check them out - they're fantastic. Catch John also at the Shadow Art Fair, happening at the Corner Brewery in Ypsi on December 1st.