Mom wouldn’t recognize this cup of joe. It’s the silent buzz that is making a difference in mornings locally and across the pond. According to Terri Pouliot, she is Salem’s only local micro-roaster dealing strictly with fairly traded and certified organic coffee.
If small batches of customized coffee are a dream worth waking up for, then pay attention. After a fire with a previous roaster, Terri is back in business. “Now with a better roaster I am determined to bounce back and reclaim my throne as local micro-roastress,” Pouliot said.
The beans come from major importers from Seattle and the Bay area. “My importers import a nice selection of global coffees. My criteria is, it must be fair trade and organic,” she said.
For Pouliot, the business model is a value statement. “Fair trade is important because farmers are guaranteed a certain higher wage which is why one will pay more for fair trade coffee. Otherwise coffee bean laborers have a dreary and firm standard of living to a staggering low wage. It’s true, and it’s very sad when you look into it.”
Right now she serves about thirty customers, but her goal is 100. “I don’t think I will be able to serve many more than that without buying another roaster.”
Typically people order a pound of micro-roasted coffee a week. The diva delivers in the Willamette Valley weekly. With several varieties to choose from, and the ability to sample in small sizes, it’s a custom experience. “I start people out with a sampler starter kit. Customers can purchase two-ounce samples and it enables me to create a custom cup for the client. No one starting out is committed to a big bag of beans that they don’t like.” Flavors like Sulawesi and Sumatra are naturally lower in acid. Pouliot says to try before you buy because it’s a whole new world for your taste buds.
If you are a drive-through coffee connoisseur, then get ready for a jolt. “If your libation of choice is one-third syrups and creams, then my coffee will taste very strange to you indeed,” Pouliot said. She caters to the black coffee drinker, or those who wish to grow their taste buds in that direction. “I believe that the certain health benefits in drinking small amounts of coffee are countered by adding the cream and sweeteners. Learning to appreciate a black cup of java will take on average two weeks, and is mostly psychological. So those wishing to evolve can be led through the process.”
A pound of Silent Buzz coffee runs about $11 per pound. Organic fair trade varieties are available at LifeSource as bulk beans for about $8.49 per pound and typically go on sale for $6.49 per pound.
Pouliot knows that her coffee is three to four times the price of canned coffee. “A lot of my customers would buy beans from other sources and would be so disappointed that they would just dump them. Even though they cost more, they haven’t had to dump anything. If someone is unhappy, I will buy it back and re-roast,” she said.
How you make it says a lot about how it is going to taste. “I use the pour-over method, which makes one to two cups at a time. “That is what I recommend, either that or the French Press method. Don’t put it in the coffee maker. Coffee makers will affect the flavor adversely; you might as well make a cup of Yuban if you are going to do it that way,” she said.
“I got into the roasting because I have two very young children and I am a domestic diva. I prepare every meal and snack from scratch. I shuttle kids back and forth for their character-enriching activities, and a quality home life is something of major importance to me, but I also need a job.”
So, the job became beans. “We [Oregonians] love coffee and we get to enjoy it, and the people who make it are struggling to eat. If it isn’t fair trade, it won’t touch my roaster.
“I am a gourmet chef hobbyist. I have been told that I should do it as a profession, but I lack the focus and I am a control freak, so it is a hobby. Roasting is different because I have a machine that does all the work for me and I don’t have to have five different items going at once.” For more information, or to order, visit Pouliot’s website at thesilentbuzz.com