I have always loved coffee, and over the years have always been on the hunt for a great coffee, and the perfect coffee maker. I was excited when better coffee makers came on the scene, when I found different roasts and coffees to try other than what the grocery store offered. I often wondered why there was such a difference in the beans in those bins, I preferred darker roasts, some were oily some were not – some tasted stale, some not so much. Thru more education I learned that dark roast coffees did have oils on them, and when a dark coffee didn’t have oils anymore they were stale, all the flavor in the oils were gone. This broke my perception and understanding that age of the bean didn’t matter – it was when you ground the coffee, supported by signs that said “fresh Ground Coffee” Ground fresh does not equal fresh coffee. I have leareded a lot about coffee, yet feel like I’m still at the beginning. The quest continued.
. I bought my first automatic espresso machine in 2000 – a Saeco Magic Deluxe. My palate for fresh roasted coffee grew, and I was buying coffee from Seattle’s Best –“ Bistro Blend” discovered by my brother after a trip to Seattle. In 2003 Starbucks bought Seattles Best and stopped roasting Bistro Blend. It was a sad revelation. Around 2005 my brothers began playing with roasting coffee. On visits back home to Illinois, I watched him roasting, as he was trying to find the replacement to Bistro Blend - I thought he was crazy. On subsequent trips – as he perfected his first blend (Café Blend) I changed my mind, and my interest in roasting coffee grew. Soon – found myself buying his old roasters, as he bought bigger ones and began playing myself. In Fall of 2005, I began handing out samples of coffee, and was totally caught off guard when someone asked if they could buy some! Shortly after, We were approached by a friend, asking if we would be willing to donate coffee to a banquet for the” House of Hope” . We did. And thru that donation, our Coffee Company was born – L&L Coffee Co. We bought our 5kilo ambex roaster, got state licensed, and in 2006 – this journey began, roasting in our State Licensed facility in basement of our house. In 2009, we had a need to move to a larger facility. After a long search, we landed at the Hubbard Industrial Park, a building that was devastated by the Flood of 2008. Shortly after that move, L&L Coffee Co, became Iowa Coffee Roasters to better define who we were – Roasters, not a coffee shop. And now We are Iowa Custom Coffee Roasters, to further define who we are, a local Coffee Roaster that supplies fresh roasted coffee, provides blend development to our customers, with outstanding service. In 2012 – we added other coffee products, Syrups, powders, smoothie mixes. In 2016, Because the Hubbard complex was in the flood plain, the city purchased the building, and we were once again, looking for a new facility – in 2017 we moved into our larger, roasting facility in Marion, Iowa.
Looking back, , I am really proud of our roots, and where we have come from. It has been a journey, full of twists and turns, and have met some amazing people along the way.
I am looking forward to the next chapter – We have great plans to grow, help educate, to seek out and roast the great coffees of the world. I still love coffee, I love roasting, and creating coffee that you, my customers enjoy. A friend of mine, started with one coffee, and now she enjoys a wide range of coffees from around the world in her cup. That makes me smile.
- Lee Ulrich, Beanroaster/The Coffee Guy/ Mr. Lee