News 8 Eyepiece: Daily Grind

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters will be celebrating their 10th anniversary this year.

In this week’s Eye Piece, photographer John Schmidt stopped in at their headquarters in Viroqua to see what goes in to the drink that starts the day for so many of us.

“The coffee process starts, for us, on the cupping table,” said Kickapoo Coffee Roasters owner Caleb Nicholes. “We’re essentially trying to eliminate any brew variables. We have the same amount of water, same amount of coffee, same grind and we’re able to evaluate and taste a coffee strictly on its flavor characteristics.”

Nicholes and co-owner TJ Semanchin said they use a spoon and they’re essentially slurping like you would slurp hot soup.

“The reason that we are doing that is we’re trying to spray the whole inside of our pallet and get as much of the nuance as we can perceive out of the coffee,” Semanchin said.

Coffee beans in their raw state don’t have flavor, so the flavonoids are forming during the roasting process, Nicholes explained.

“When the coffee is done in the roaster and has hit its optimal roast level, we want to stop that process as fast as possible. So we have an oversized cooling tray that will bring that coffee from 420-degrees down to room temperature in about two minutes,” Semanchin said.

Once the coffee drops out of the roaster, it goes into bags, it’s packed and shipped out for the day.

“If you’ve had really fresh coffee you’ll see it bubbling when it’s fresh ground. And that’s CO2 escaping from the cell structure of the coffee once it’s ground,” said Nicholes said.