We're sitting at The Roastery of Cave Creek. Owner David Anderson came out to give us a tour of his facility, despite having had knee surgery just a few days ago. He wasn't able to drive yet, so his spunky and incredibly sweet stepdaughter, Wade, gave him a lift.
The business was closed, but a customer came in looking for coffee. The Roastery usually offers after-hour sales on an honor system; a cabinet outside the building holds bags of coffee, visitors drop cash through the mail slot. Quaint, right?
But this customer needed his beans ground. And he didn't have cash on him. No matter -- The Roastery took care of it. Wade ground the beans while David spoke with the visitor. He told him to drop by with cash when he had it, and the customer left happy. As he walked out the door, he said, "What I just experienced here is what makes this place special. Small-town hospitality."
We used a half a tank of gas getting to and from The Roastery, but we don't regret it (mostly). The Andersons are welcoming, family-oriented, and genuinely kind, and their business is snuggled up into some seriously beautiful scenery.
The Roastery of Cave Creek opened in 2007. Prior to that, Anderson owned Cave Creek Coffee Company and Wine Bar (now called Local Johnny's). Originally from Kansas, Anderson loves three things: barbecue, live music, and roasting coffee.
You might not have ever heard of the Roastery, but odds are if you partake in the Phoenix food scene, you've had their coffee. Matt's Big Breakfast, FnB, and Pizzeria Bianco all use beans from the ROCC. As Anderson puts it, "Coffee is often the last impression a restaurant makes on a customer's dining experience."
Anderson tries to make this experience a great one. He roasts custom blends for many of his accounts. The ROCC starts by using high-quality coffee from a handful of different reputable green coffee importers. When we were there, we were excited to see coffee from Cafe Imports' ACEs collection - part of a contest that the importer holds to honor the best green coffees grown in Colombia that year.
Though he favors coffees from Central America, Anderson has slowed down on buying coffees from this region. A plant disease known as Coffee Leaf Rust has been devastating the region for many years, and has driven up the cost of unaffected coffee.
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Anderson takes a vintage approach to roasting. "There are always fads in coffee, just like anything else. First there was Folgers, then Starbucks, now 'the third wave,'" he says, referring to the current movement towards lighter-roasted coffees. "Too many third wave shops roast too light." While we still love a nice balanced light roasted coffee, we can respect the old traditions as well. The ROCC Generally roasts to a Full City level, which is darker than medium but lighter than a "dark roast."
"Roasting coffee is not rocket science - it's art and science," says Anderson. He tries to make the process as scientific as possible by using a series of temperatures probes to feed input back into his laptop from inside the body of the roaster. That way, he can recreate his preferred roast process with a great deal of precision, guaranteeing consistency between batches.
That's a lot of attention to detail from a small-town roaster - and a huge commitment to quality. But when asked what makes the Roastery of Cave Creek different from other local roasters, he says, without question, "Customer service. Our Customer service is as good or better than the coffee."