Steve Kraus of Press Coffee Roastery Will Change the Way You Think About Coffee
Evie Carpenter Steve Kraus of Press Coffee stands next to their roaster, Brutus.
This week we're taking a break from our weekly chef chat to talk coffee with one of the Valley's coffee roasters. Find part two of this interview here.
According to the National Coffee Association, more than 80 percent of American adults drink coffee. For many people -- us included -- it's a part of a daily routine, something we just can't imagine living without.
But how much do we really know about this drink that so many of us love? And we're not talking about whether or not you prefer dark or light brews, but about coffee as an agricultural product and an artisan craft.
See also: 8 Best Coffee Houses in Metro Phoenix
Educating the public about coffee is one of the main reasons Steve Kraus, owner and operator of Press Coffee Roasters, opens up his roastery for tours and cuppings several times a week. The South Phoenix building houses the company's roasting facility and office, in addition to serving as a place to showcase Press' latest projects.
Lauren Saria Roasting beans at Press Coffee.
Kraus and his wife, Tram Mai (you might recognize the name; she's an anchor for 12 News), started Press in 2008. They opened Press Coffee Food and Wine at CityNorth but, due to the tanking economy, ended up closing that location and opening Press Coffee at Scottsdale Quarter in 2010. By then, they already had begun roasting their own beans, though they didn't have a dedicated space until they moved to this one in 2012.
If you haven't thought much about everything that goes into you cup of morning joe, a visit to the facility can be mind blowing. First, Kraus will probably direct your attention to a coffee harvest schedule that hangs on the wall.
"With coffee being an agricultural product, it grows differently every year," Kraus says, decribing how a farmer's coffee can fluctuate in quality from harvest to harvest.
The harvest schedule shows which countries are in season during which months of the year. Coffee can really only be grown in a small portion of the world -- specifically, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, the area immediately next to the equator.
As such, it's pretty much impossible for completely "local" coffee to exist in a place like Phoenix. But that doesn't mean roasters like Press are just buying beans from whomever. There's a stringent process that goes into bean selection, and it starts with what's called a "cupping."
Press sources its beans from several different importers and has one direct relationship with a farm in South America (though they don't have those beans year round). The importers send bean samples every few weeks, small bags of raw coffee beans that get roasted and used in cuppings. It's important to do a cupping -- think of it as a wine tasting, except with coffee -- since beans vary from season to season, affected by everything from the weather to the farm's method of processing.
Lauren Saria Green coffee beans.