Kaitlyn Flowers, Barista's Roasting CompanyStory by Claudia Mosby
Photo by Betsy Erickson
Without the ability to define precisely why, many people will say they like coffee simply because it tastes good. Kaitlyn Flowers can pinpoint the finer nuances of that taste, right down to the origin of the bean and its subtle flavor. For example, she says the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is one of the only beans in the world with a hint of natural citrus flavor.
A wunderkind, such knowledge seems almost innate to Flowers, who opened Barista’s Roasting Company three years ago at age 20. Within three months she was operating a sustainable enterprise thanks to enthusiastic community support. “Our goal is that everything we do is top of the line,” says Flowers.
Raised in an entrepreneurial family of coffee drinkers who like to socialize over a cup of joe, Flowers had a vision of creating a “home away from home” for those who like to bond over coffee. The face of the business, she oversees Barista’s day-to-day operations, but it is a family affair. Her father Grant assists in selecting and roasting the coffee and hand blends the house and espresso roasts, while her mother Diana handles administrative paperwork, helps choose the beans, and develops food and pastry recipes.
“In Europe, being a barista is more prestigious. It’s a career choice,” says Flowers. “Here, it’s viewed as someone’s middle or in-between job. We hope to change that.” Making coffee is both science and art, says Diana, who compares a barista’s knowledge of coffee with a sommelier‘s knowledge of wines.
The Barista’s staff is certified through the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the standard-bearer for specialty coffee. “Every barista goes through months of training,” says Flowers. “We’re teaching them a skill they can take with them.” She says that unlike the super-automated assembly-line coffee establishments where a barista simply loads the beans and pushes a button, “At Barista’s we’re seeing that coffee through every stage before it goes into your cup.”
To ensure the highest quality, Flowers orders bean samples from coffee brokers and she and her parents roast and test them using a process known as cupping—brewing and tasting each coffee to rate its acidity, aroma, flavor and body at different roast levels. “We typically sample numerous coffees because only about 5% of it meets the Barista’s standard,” says Diana.
Barista’s roasts at its on- and off-site locations according to the roasting profile developed during cupping. Roasting is done in small batches (beans are never more than 48 hours old) to maintain peak freshness and flavor. Every batch of beans is then hand-sifted to remove imperfections, a practice Flowers says many coffee houses don’t employ.
Caffeinated and decaffeinated house drip coffee and espresso blends are featured and the house drip changes. “Our origin drip coffees are made to order by the cup,” says Flowers. “We always pull fresh shots of espresso, even in cold drinks. We don’t pre-make a mixture.”
Last summer the shop started offering a tri-tip, slow roasted barbecue to complement the live music it offers on Friday nights. “We realized there weren’t a lot of places in town to enjoy a beverage and entertainment on Friday evening without having to buy a meal,” says Flowers, who has created a family atmosphere where children can enjoy hot cocoa or Italian soda while their parents sip coffee, wine or beer. “Everything we serve has been an award winner,” she adds. “Some are international gold medal winners and a number are local brews, but many are only served in the Redding area by Barista’s. We even have gluten-free beer.”
Although the barbecue was intended to operate during the summer months, it has been so popular that Flowers plans to continue it twice a week throughout the winter and has recently added chicken to the menu. “We use espresso in the marinade which maintains the link to coffee,” she says.
The shop also serves an all-day breakfast and lunch menu featuring farm-fresh eggs and a variety of freshly made pastries. Several dairy alternatives such as soy, hemp and almond milk are standard, a rarity of choice among Redding coffee houses.
“We’re trying to produce something that is fast but still top quality,” says Flowers. “We’ve considered a drive-through but we aren’t about mass production. We will probably eventually open one but want that connection to a sit-down so we can still have that relationship with the customer.”
Barista’s is not only for the coffee connoisseur, but for those wanting the Gold Cup Standard of flavor, aroma and body in a freshly roasted cup of coffee. “In the mornings I identify people as pre-coffee or post-coffee when they place their order,” she says. “It’s almost like handing them their cup of joy.” •
Barista’s Roasting Company
1007 Dana Drive, Suite A, Redding