On a short jaunt to the desert between Christmas and New Year's Day, my friends and I (four in all, in a rented house) ran out of coffee rather precipitously.
Without coffee -- strong coffee --how are you going to ever get up for an early morning hike in the park? We had a four-cup French press with us, and I didn't relish trying to make some decent joe in that with a can of Folger's from the general market.
Bingo! At the farmers market in town that Saturday morning, we found a stand where Royce Robertson and his wife, Ikeke, were selling fresh, certified organic coffee beans. Their Joshua Tree Coffee Co. bag reads "hand roasted, small batch." And whenever possible, those beans are Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified as well.
Founder and master roaster Royce has only been at it for six months or so and is self-taught, but he definitely has a knack for roasting. He's also that rare breed: a native of Joshua Tree.
He roasts five types of coffee in all -- "The First Roast," "Mellow Ethiopian," "Breakfast Bliss," "Espresso" and "Delicious Decaf." We opted for "The First Roast" (a blend of Colombian, Guatemalan and Ethiopian beans), which he ground right there for a French press.
He explained that his green beans are kept in custom-built, climate-controlled storage that's monitored 24/7. If the temperature or humidity strays beyond the parameters he's set, he gets a notification via text or email. That's his previous career in IT showing.
Actually, he's got lots of experience. "I've been drinking coffee since I was an infant, as unorthodox as it sounds," he said. "I would cry until I got whatever the adults were having, and if they were drinking coffee, they put a couple of drops in my bottle. And after that, I would ask for my coffee 'baba.'"
Next time I'm in the high desert, I won't even bother to bring my own coffee along. The beans are sold locally in Joshua Tree at Crossroads Cafe, Natural Sisters Cafe and Joshua Tree Health Food Store. In Yucca Valley, Sue's Health Foods and the Route 62 Diner stock the coffee. In Palm Springs, you can find it at Nature's Health Foods and Cafe and Palm Greens Cafe.
You can also order it online, and because the website isn't fully implemented yet, Robertson is offering 10% off on online orders.
Prices, even without the discount, are reasonable: A pound of "The First Roast," for example, goes for just $12. A half-pound bag is $7. All the roasts, including the single origin "Mellow Ethiopian" are the same price. And we are talking full pounds, not the 12-ounce bags that have become the norm for high-end roasters.
For more information, contact email@example.com or call Robertson at (760) 799-8210.