By Daniel E. McGonigle
The Caledonia Argus
Bob Carlson’s love for coffee began as a young boy.
Growing up in the Twin Cities, Carlson would help at his father’s machine shop and got hooked on the beverage.
He carried that love into his adult life and turned his passion into a thriving business.
Carlson Roasting Company, which opened in late 2015 is a wholesale coffee supplier.
Recently, Bob, his wife and their five children, expanded the business into the former cafe location on the corner of the highway in Houston.
“You get on average over 4,000 plus cars passing by this spot according to MnDOT,” Carlson said. “So when it opened up we jumped at the chance.”
Started with a home roaster
A few years ago for Christmas, Carlson’s wife Mimi gave him a small roaster.
He then began to roast his own beans.
Learning what he liked and didn’t like and what worked well or didn’t, Carlson began sharing with his friends and family.
From there, he and his wife decided that they would turn that knowledge into a business.
“After learning a few things along the way I started to think I’d gotten pretty good so we put together a business plan,” Carlson said.
One of the biggest things the company prides itself on is being a “fair trade organic (FTO) certified roaster.”
“All our coffee products are Fair Trade Organic (FTO) certificated. Fair Trade Certified products were made with respect to people and planet. Our rigorous social, environmental and economic standards work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses. When you choose products with the Fair Trade label, your day-to-day purchases can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives,” Carlson said.
Small batches are also a key part of their overall strategy within the marketplace.
“Carlson Roasting Company is passionate about quality hand crafted coffee,” he said. “We roast in small batches with attention to detail that brings out the potential of each batch. We are always searching for great beans to turn into your cup of coffee. Coffee is a crop and changes in quality over time, so what we offer will change over time as quality from each origin and farm changes with each harvest.”
“More and more the consumer wants to know where their food is coming from, who is producing it,” Carlson continued. “For our parents they trusted the big corporations, and to a lesser degree so did the Generation X generation. But the millenials want to know the producer’s stories, where the things they eat are being grown or produced. They want to know the stories behind their food.”
Carlson Roasting gets its beans from all across the globe.
The end product is also shipped all across the country and globe as well.
However, on a wholesale level, the Carlsons decided they would circle a 60 mile radius around Houston.
So they can be found in places such as Root River Market in Houston, The Wired Rooster in Caledonia, three locations in Winona, two HyVee locations in Rochester, People’s Food Co-op in Rochester (soon to be in the La Crosse location as well), Rushford Foods and several restaurants and local artisanal shops in La Crosse.
Artisanal small batch roaster, and mini-donuts
When the company moved into the former Lola’s location, they wanted to provide a tasting room for their coffees.
Carlson is always scouring the global markets for new flavors to try and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., he shares those findings with interested customers.
“But we wanted to find something to pair with our coffees,” he said.
So, the couple opened up an artisanal mini-donut shop.
These days, Carlson and his two oldest children will find themselves creating a variety of donuts for the customers to consume.
He is always looking for new and exciting donut recipes to pair with his coffee.
Be sure and stop in on a Saturday morning and enjoy a freshly roasted cup of Carlson’s finest blend, along with a mini donut or two.
Carlson Roasting is online at carlsonroasting.com. Be sure to like their Facebook page as well.