By: Matthew Rhodes, The Brookings Register – Updated: 4 days ago
Hello Larsons Coffee Roastery starts small, hopes to open coffee shop someday
VOLGA – The scent of roasted coffee in Volga from time to time won’t lead you to a coffee shop – but maybe someday. That lovely aroma now comes from Hello Larsons Coffee Roastery.
Hello Larsons is owned by Krista and Tim Larson, and they operate primarily through online sales at their website: https://hellolarsonscoffee.com/.
“My husband and I started the idea of coffee roasting in 2018, and it was really just something that we were doing at home. We love fresh coffee – spent some time and went to school in Minneapolis and just loved the coffee community there. And there we decided that we just wanted to roast coffee ourselves, and then I had a friend who introduced us – he had his own little coffee roasting business – and he introduced us to the idea of roasting and he said, ‘Hey, just borrow my roaster and see what you think,’” said Krista Larson.
Krista said she and Tim both enjoy coffee, but finding a good quality coffee can be challenging.
“Not to dis any of those other brands, but I think fresh coffee is really our main focus. After having some fresh coffee from some other roasters, I think it makes a huge difference, and after you’ve tried that fresh coffee it’s nearly impossible to go back to that stuff that’s sat on the shelf for a long time, so that’s what really inspired us to roast at home. After realizing we really enjoyed that, we wanted to push it a step further and become a business,” Krista said.
Krista said it was Tim’s mom who inspired their business name.
“As a kid he remembered his mom answering the phone when everyone still had a landline, so they would say ‘Hello Larsons’ as they answered the phone, and…it just kind of stuck,” she said. “We wanted it to be personalized to us but to also be just a fun welcoming name.”
The couple started with a coffee roaster that would roast one pound at a time.
“It was just something for fun, but then we realized that this was something that we could make into a business,” Krista said. “We played around with that and really honed our skills with our small roaster just out of our garage … until January of 2020. So we have really only been roasting a little larger than that for about a year.”
“At that point we decided to just make this more of a business – and it’s definitely still just a side-gig for the both of us for a little bit, kind of a fun hobby to do on the side,” Krista said.
Both she and Tim work full-time jobs, and they have baby at home, too. “So he’s learning the art of coffee roasting as well.”
Right now, the Larsons use a Buckeye Coffee Roaster that can roast 15 pounds at once.
“After that, we rented a commercial space here in Volga. It’s not open to the public, it’s not a storefront. It’s just our roasting space, and now we have a coffee roaster that can roast up to 15 pounds at a time, so much more efficient for us. We’ve had that for about a year, and we’ve expanded – kind of – our offerings lately,” Krista said.
Along with deciding to go into business and roasting more coffee, the pair graphs their roasts to make sure everything is precise.
Right now, Hello Larsons has four origins of coffee beans: a Brazilian bean titled “Bless Your Heart,” a Papua New Guinea bean named “Hello Darlin,’” a Columbian bean named “I’m Fancy,” and a decaffeinated Mexican coffee bean titled “Calm It Down.”
Each bean can be roasted to the buyer’s desire, and there are 15 different flavors to choose from if the buyer wants that added to their coffee beans.
“We use a coffee extract, it’s essentially an oil – we use a very small amount for each pound. We only flavor our ground coffees…because flavoring whole bean coffees is much more difficult than ground coffee,” Krista said.
“We cater to the customer, so we will roast them light, medium or dark – we will definitely recommend certain roasts if we think a certain variety is best that way. We actually decided to offer flavoring as well in the last eight or nine months, and that’s really taken off, that’s what’s really become a popular thing around here,” Krista said.
When roasting coffee beans, they have to be aware of how easily the flavors can change based on the slightest adjustments to temperature, humidity, the origin of the bean itself, air pressure, and even the season one is roasting in. Managing these components to produce the correct flavor can be quite a challenge, Krista said.
“Starting out we were just selling half-pound bags because our roaster was so small…but now of course we have the larger roaster, so we can do half-pound bags, one-pound, two-pound and five-pound bags, so we kind of do the full array of all of those,” Krista said.
“Right now we’re hoping to just get into more commercial selling spaces, so if coffee shops wanted to take on our coffee, we’re open to that and wholesale opportunities. And then long-term, and I mean it’s pretty long-term, but we would love to own our own coffee shop, that would be the main goal to provide our coffees to locals here and to South Dakotans in general. We’d love to actually have a shop and welcome people in not only to provide the coffee itself but also the service that comes with it as well along with specialty drinks,” Krista said.
Larson said that the COVID-19 pandemic has actually helped her and her husband in coffee sales, since they’re mostly an online retailer.
“With people being home a lot more in the last year, it’s really helped us. We’ve been able to expand, and people have been sending coffee as gifts via mail, and that really helped us. We did some promotions where you could send coffee to a family member or a friend and we would include a free Christmas card or something like that, a little personalized note, and that helped,” Krista said. “I guess if you want to talk about the positive side of COVID, it really did help our online business.”
They hope to expand the variety of coffee bean origins in the future, too.
“I really just want to emphasize that we want to introduce people to fresh coffee, and we’re definitely all about being local – we love to supply local people and local businesses with our coffees,” Krista said.
Contact Matthew Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of The Brookings Register