Wadena businessman Kyle Hagen continues to add skills to his lengthy resume.
Father, husband, WDC varsity wrestling coach, owner of Owly Coffee Co., owner-operator at The Uptown restaurant and now coffee bean roaster at Owly Bean Roasters.
His latest venture into coffee bean roasting brought him to purchase the former Joey’s PC building right next door to the Wadena Pioneer Journal office. He and his brother Jeremy partnered up in the business, with Jeremy doing much of the carpentry work inside, preparing for their opening. The building sports a wide open front area allowing customers to watch the whole process from a green bean to the fully roasted, packaged product.
Hagen said he never imagined getting into the coffee business until he fell into the coffee shop business in Wadena in the summer of 2017. That business is out on Hwy 10 west of town, and Hagen said it will remain there. He does not plan on selling coffee beverages from the new roasting business. But that doesn't mean you can't do some sampling there.
He's been thinking about roasting his own beans for about a year.
"It kind of just donned on me to cut out that middle process of having to get already roasted beans from somebody," Hagen said. "Why not do it myself?"
He hopes to not only use it for himself, but sell it from the downtown business and around the state as well. He said roasting his own will help him be more competitive in pricing and allow him to explore more flavors that he feels will be sought after by coffee fanatics.
"That's the beauty of it, the number of countries, and beans, profiles and farms, there's so many," Hagen said. The options of flavors are unlimited. At this point he proudly orders Genuine Origin beans. It allows him to know the country of the bean, the farm it's grown on and the farmer.
From green bean to coffee cup
Hagen's new roasting machine will roast about 10 pounds of beans at a time, fully roasted in 12 - 15 minutes. He does it all on a roaster named "Diedrich," which is controlled from a touch screen pad connected to the machine. He said this system allows him to calibrate the settings on a certain roast, and if he or you like the results, he can save the exact settings in order to match that flavor time after time.
"After that it's really just dialing in the profile that belongs with the bean," Hagen said. "That sounds like it might be simpler, but it's going to interesting."
He had to go through three days of training in Idaho to know how to properly roast. He said he still has much to learn and much experimenting to do. But he's excited. No doubt ingesting gallons of caffeine infused coffee might be a factor.
Jeremy sees the excitement in his brother as well and said he knows Kyle can't wait to get this business off the ground. He said he feels honored that Kyle asked him to be a part of this venture considering Kyle's found success in his other Wadena businesses. The two also coach wrestling at WDC together.
"Kyle doesn't ask for help often," Jeremy said.
Things got real in the last week when 650 pounds of beans arrived at the business. That included Guatemalan, Peruvian, Ethiopian and Honduran beans. Some of those are specialty. One in particular he was excited about was one that was supposed to have hints of blueberry, lavender, vanilla and chocolate.
Hagen plans to have the production area viewable on the south side of the building. The north side will be home to a growing retail section and seating area. This business goes beyond just making roasted beans for his use at Owly Coffee, it’s also a place you can test out the coffee flavors and buy your own fresh beans, coffee mugs, shirts and other goodies. As a former teacher, Hagen doesn’t just want to sell a product, he wants to share an experience. He plans to offer classes on coffee tasting.
“I want to show you how to enjoy coffee,” Hagen said. Because, apparently, serious coffee drinkers need help with that.
Hagen planned to start playing with roasting this week and within a few weeks have a few roasts dialed in. He still must wait for state inspections to approve of the remodeled interior, which includes a new rustic bathroom constructed by Jeremy. The interior sports the owl and green color used on many of the logos of the coffee shop.
He expects a December opening date with hours likely from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but those finer details will come together soon.
The sweet scent of coffee
If you're hoping downtown Wadena will be filled with the scent of roasted coffee, it probably will sometimes, But as Hagen explains there are many other smells associated with the bean.
"It's weird, it's hard to even explain like once you come in and smell it, you'll never unsmell it," Hagen said. "The second you walk down the street, you'll think, oh, Kyle's roasting coffee."
He shared how it has about six different smells at it makes its way through the roasting process. It starts out smelling like earth. Upon starting the roast it smells like hay. Then bread. Then toasted bread. Then you start to enter the roasted coffee scent and finally finish ready for a steaming mug full.
Look for further details on an opening date in the Wadena Pioneer Journal.