A search for a source of high quality coffee led Todd and Heather Goehner into a hobby that would eventually become a business.
The couple began roasting their own coffee at home, first in a popcorn popper then upgrading to more sophisticated equipment. They now own Bad Dog Beanery, located at 514 S. Mt. Olive, which supplies Siloam Springs and the surrounding area with locally roasted, small-batch, artisan coffee.
The business offers flavors from around the world, but all the coffee is sourced directly from farmers to ensure the best quality and make sure that growers are treated fairly.
Bad Dog Beanery is one of several businesses, individuals and organizations the Herald-Leader features today in an annual special section, this year named "Siloam Proud." See sections C and D of the newspaper for the special sections.
Todd and Heather share a love of coffee, although their backgrounds are a bit different.
"Todd grew up in Seattle and Hawaii, so he's pretty spoiled," Heather said. "I just grew up drinking my dad's leftover Folgers."
Heather, who is originally from Springdale, has always thought of Siloam Springs as home because most of her mom's family lives in the community, she said.
"Todd and I met at JBU (John Brown University) as students," she said. "We moved away for two years in Colorado and when we came back we had such a hard time finding good coffee. ... So we started doing home roasting."
Heather also worked as a licensed veterinary technician, but she had some health problems and decided two years ago to focus on roasting coffee full-time. Todd continues to work as a graphic design professor at JBU.
The couple's customer base started with friends and family and quickly grew through word of mouth.
The brand grew from the couple's love for dogs and coffee. They have two dogs at home and Heather can often be seen at the Farmers Market passing out dog treats and accidentally re-enacting the logo, which depicts a woman asking a dog to sit for a treat.
"Pretty much our entire life is coffee and dogs so it was just kind of obvious," she said.
All the coffee that Bad Dog Beanery sells has been roasted in the past two weeks, Heather said. Freshly roasted coffee has a clean and complex taste, not to mention the amazing smell.
In comparison, it has been weeks to months since the coffee on the grocery store shelf was roasted, giving time for the oils to oxidize and develop a burnt taste, Heather said.
"Fresh coffee is going to taste good no matter what, it's delicious," she said.
Light or dark roasted coffee is a matter of personal preference, but it is the developing time that is most important to creating a rich flavor, Heather said. After coffee is put in the roaster and brought back up to temperature, the drying process begins. The chaff and parchment comes off the coffee seed and it begins drying and turning brown.
"There is a point. ... it just kind of smells like baking bread, that's when the endosperm and bean actually starts opening and roasting. After several minutes, the beans pop or crack and expand in size. Some roasters take the beans out of the roaster at this point while others wait until second crack," Heather said.
"As long as you get proper development time in between, you'll have a deeper and more complex flavor," she said. "If you just rush to first crack, all you're thinking about is just how dark it's going to be, then you'll probably be missing out on a lot of flavor from the coffee."
"A lot of people, when they say they like dark coffee, they really are only looking for full body, chocolatey, nutty flavors," Todd said. "It's not necessarily dark coffee, it's just they like that really nice full-bodied flavor, where as when people say they like light coffees, they are looking for fruity, citrusy flavors, and so it is more tea-like instead of more chocolate."
Heather roasts a wide variety of coffees from all over the world. Some of the coffees, such as Colombian and Ethiopian, are roasted in larger batches for local restaurants while other higher-end coffees are roasted in micro batches, she said.
"Because my roaster is small, each batch is kind of like my own little work of art," she said.
Todd and Heather do extensive testing on their coffee and track the flavor profile of each batch on the computer. While they don't sell coffee drinks in their shop, just coffee beans, they do keep coffee on so customers can taste it. They also hold tastings and cuppings so that restaurants can choose their own unique flavors.
Direct source coffee
Green coffee beans come into Bad Dog Beanery in large, brightly colored burlap bags. The company uses direct source coffee from two brokers who work with a small number of growers. One broker is located in Kansas City and the other in New York.
"We try to be selective, because fair trade, you know things that are labeled fair trade are not necessarily that fair, so we like the ones that are actually really people on the ground, dealing with real people," she said.
The problem is that fair trade coffee buying is still based on a commodity system, even though prices are slightly higher than regular coffee, Todd said.
"They're not working directly with each of the farmers, so it is a better thing than what was originally going on, which was buy as cheap as possible and everybody kind of gouging, but direct source works a lot better for the farmer because the farmer is then working with somebody who is importing it to improve the quality," he said.
The relationship between the broker and the farmer doesn't just help the farmer, it also has a big impact on the overall quality of the product, Heather said.
"It's way better quality because they are making sure that the farmer gets the help they need to control pests, to improve the beans, to make sure there is plenty of irrigation and to help manage the forest around them so they don't have to clear cut necessarily to grow more beans," she said.
Brokers also help farmers improve the drying and washing processes, and work with them to develop new processes, which means they can get a wider variety of flavors from their coffee beans.
"So they are able to do more with one single source bean, they are able to get many flavors out of it, not just from the roasting process, but from the process of drying it and washing it. .. That increases the income for the farmer and that makes sure the process they are using is effective," she said.
Artisan gift shop
Bad Dog Beanery is opening an artisan gift shop next to their coffee shop to give local artists, authors and Farmers Market vendors a place to sell their wares. They already share their building with owner Maples Electric, and several other businesses.
"The goal with this was just to give people that don't have another avenue a place to show their goods and sell their goods," she said.
The artisan gift shop will not only help sellers make a little bit of money, it will also let customers get a glimpse of the talents in the Siloam Springs community.
"We're a really great art community, a funky community, and I think it would be good for us for people to be able to see more of what goes on in Siloam," she said.
Where to find
Bad Dog Beanery Coffee can be purchased at the Siloam Springs Farmers Market or at the online Farmers Market during the off season. It is also available for sale on the business' website, www.baddogbeanery.com, or at Ziggywurst. In addition, the coffee roasting company offers subscription services for loyal customers and free delivery in Siloam Springs.General News on 06/27/2018
Print Headline: Couple brings locally roasted flavors to Siloam Springs