On the Cutting Edge of Coffee

September 09, 2016

CIU alumnus opens roastery

By Bob Holmes

Look up the word roastery in the dictionary, and you won’t find it. It’s too new. That puts Columbia International University alumnus Beach Loveland on the cutting edge of the coffee roastery industry.

Loveland, a 2009 CIU alumnus, and his wife Jessica (Hughes) Loveland, a 2002 CIU graduate, founded Loveland Coffee with a drive-thru kiosk in Columbia’s northwest suburb of Irmo in 2012. Business has been good, and now, the Loveland Coffee brand has expanded to include a roastery, where Loveland is able to control his brand beginning with the coffee beans that are fair-trade and organic.

“I get to control the whole process. I get to pass along that quality and assurance to my customers,” Loveland said. “I know where this coffee came from, I roasted it. These are the steps I’ve taken to make sure it is quality for you.”

Loveland reaches into a burlap bag to display a handful of greenish colored coffee beans. The bags are stamped with names of countries such as Brazil and Peru, carefully selected by Loveland through a coffee broker. Loveland then funnels them into the hand-crafted $34,000 roaster where he carefully masters the high-tech controls for 13 to 15 minutes of roasting.

“There are several key times during that period for adjusting air speed and the amount of gas pressure we’re putting in for a batch size of 25 pounds,” Loveland explains. “If I have Guatemalan (beans), I have a set profile that I roast for. I have a certain finish temperature that I’m shooting for (and) certain set points during the roast to bring out the best flavor nuances.”

Once the beans cool, they are packaged for distribution. The roastery, the first in the Irmo area, is for now, a one-man operation out of a non-descript office/warehouse within a couple of miles of the Loveland Coffee drive-thru. But the Lovelands larger vision has always been for a coffee café, a venue where they could reach out the Irmo-Ballentine community of greater Columbia.

“We thought going forward toward that goal that (the roastery) would be a great next step,” Loveland said. “We thought this would be a great investment in ourselves to be able to control the quality of our products and get a cost savings.”

A devastating October 2015 flood in Columbia offered Loveland a unique opportunity to engage the community. At that time, because the Columbia water supply was potentially contaminated, a cup of coffee was hard to come by. But Loveland says because the water he uses at the drive-thru is from a “secure source” he was able to fill the coffee fix for the community.

“People were paying it forward to others, (saying), ‘Here is $100 (for others),’” Loveland said. “That’s a pretty regular thing at the drive-thru. People are paying it forward, buying a coffee and then buying three more.”   

So how does Loveland explain the coffee phenomenon that has swept the land ever since Seattle-based Starbucks went nationwide in the mid-1980s?

“It’s a warm beverage that brings people together,” Loveland said. “It’s just magical. It’s here to stay.”