Lewisville Texans can now give corporate coffee the boot.
Boots Coffee, a local home-based coffee business, is providing Lewisville with a nearby option for roasted coffee beans. Originally started by artist and barista Mike Ellis to support his personal craft coffee habit, the roaster has found others want a fresh option for their morning homebrew too.
With a background in graphic design and illustration, Ellis has used Boots as an opportunity to also share his artwork with each one-pound bag of java showcasing a different, hand-drawn cowboy portrait.
“Any kind of artwork that you’re doing, handmade or whatever the case may be, you’re hoping to craft something that you’re going to enjoy, that others are going to enjoy,” Ellis said. “Paying attention to all those details really matter — that’s true of if I’m illustrating on a bag or a wall or if I’m roasting coffee.”
Ellis said he tries to have the beans to customers within two or three days after its been roasted.
“[Coffee] can be good for maybe six weeks. It’s only going to be great for about two weeks,” Ellis said. “Because once coffee is roasted, then it’s beginning to degas.”
Before coffee beans are toasted, they don a green hue. Roasting the “green beans” introduces a chemical reaction that adds gases to the coffee, he said.
“Once those gases release, the coffee’s profile, the way the coffee tastes, is going to change,” Ellis said.
Ellis said coffee beans are in their prime about four to seven days after being roasted. Once those beans are ground, the lifespan is shortened more so and the coffee should be made right away.
“You’re very rarely going to be able to get coffee less than a week old without going to a craft coffee shop to buy it or buy it online,” Ellis said in regards to coffee on the shelves at grocery stores.
Boots’ first customer Jeremy Villeneuve said Ellis’ endeavor brings a little bit of culture that he enjoys to the community.
“If you’re looking to experience a new level of what can be offered in coffee, then Mike can definitely get you set up with high-quality beans,” Villeneuve said.
Villeneuve knows Ellis through church and learned about his home-roasting a couple of years ago. After Ellis gave Villeneuve a few batches of beans, Villeneuve requested Ellis sell it to him. From there, Boots Coffee was born.
Villeneuve replaced buying his coffee through a mail-order service with getting his fix from Boots Coffee. Villeneuve also swapped brands because Ellis isn’t always roasting the same beans, allowing customers to try a world variety, he said. Boots will have the standard Kenyan and Guatemalan beans but will also have beans from less common places such as India.
Villeneuve said the personal touch Ellis puts into the bags of coffee beans is what makes Boots special.
“He just puts so much of what I feel like is himself into this, especially when you’re getting a hand-drawn bag,” Ellis said. “He’s willing to put that time into how the bag looks. It’s like he’s putting 10 times more of that into the actual coffee itself.”
Texas’ Cottage Law allows small food businesses such as Ellis’ to operate out of their homes. Acceptable foods that can be produced under this legislation are baked goods that are not potentially hazardous, candy, nuts and unroasted nut butters, jams, fruit pie, dried fruits and dried veggies, popcorn, cereal, dry mixes, vinegar, pickles, mustard, dried herb mixes, dry tea and roasted coffee.
Products being sold along Cottage Law lines must be directly sold to consumers, whether at their homes, a farmers’ market, a farm stand, fairs, or festivals or events on a municipal, county or nonprofit level. These businesses also cannot exceed $50,000 each year in gross income.
Ellis said he has no interest in getting too big with Boots Coffee though.
“I try and keep the roasting fairly small so that I can keep up the quality level that I want and the attention to detail that I put into the coffee and the artwork,” he said.
At most Ellis roasts five pounds a day, but he tries to stick to two pounds of coffee a day.
“If I do five, that’s all I’m doing that day,” said Ellis, who has two one-pound roasters and a third on the way.
While corporate roasters may use software to determine when bean roasting is done, Ellis makes such determinations with attention to the product.
“Listening, watching, really paying attention to your senses, smelling — all of your senses have got to be active,” he said. “Roasters are getting to where they have software that can connect to them and track these profiles, but for me that kind of takes the art out of it.”
Ellis also places importance on tactile tracking of beans because of the wear-and-tear a machine will go through over the years.
“If you’re just relying on a machine to do all the work, it’s never going to be what you’re hoping to get out of it,” he said.
Ellis described three scales of coffee roasting: consumer, prosumer and professional roasting. He currently works on a prosumer level, which costs about $3,500 per roaster, he said. To go to a large-scale level of professional roasting, roasters in this range go for about $30,000.
Villeneuve said Ellis is a great source of coffee information but that’s not the only reason he thinks Lewisville Texans should buy a bag.
“One you’re supporting small business, but also two it’s like you’re getting this hand-roasted, locally roasted coffee from one of your neighbors,” Villeneuve said.
A one-pound bag of Boots Coffee beans costs $16 — a dollar an ounce, Ellis said.