The owners of a new coffee roasting business in Colfax do not like to do things the simple way.
Janelle and Travis Harrison bought what once was an Arby’s restaurant on 301 S. Main St. in the spring of 2017 and spent the rest of the time remodeling it themselves to turn it into Purpose Roasters.
Everything from the wood bar top in the corner of the business to the parking lot lines outside were all done by the Harrisons.
Their coffee roasting process is the culmination of about three years of trial and error figuring out how to produce artisan-style coffee. Janelle also spent the past two years learning how to make specialty chocolates from scratch, which are also sold at Purpose Roasters.
“Everything we do here is self-taught,” Janelle said.
The result of all their work was rewarded Sept. 29 when they hosted their grand opening to an eager public that “slammed” the business, Travis said.
The Colfax couple’s journey started when Travis, a former construction worker, wanted to find a career that allowed him more time to spend with his children.
He and his wife had started roasting coffee as a hobby three years ago. Back then, they roasted coffee in their basement using a popcorn maker. They graduated to an actual home coffee roaster, but it could only roast half a pound at a time, Janelle said.
They enjoyed making coffee and wanted to make more for their community, so they decided “why not go for it?” Janelle said.
Travis said Colfax was the right place to locate.
“We wanted to bring specialty coffee to Whitman County,” Travis said.
Making specialty coffee is a labor-intensive process that happens on-site at Purpose Roasters. Travis chooses to roast the beans manually rather than buy an automatic roaster so he can fine-tune the coffee to his liking. Janelle said they even weigh every espresso shot they pull so that it meets certain specifications.
“We like the quality way and that often equals the hard way,” Travis said.
They use beans from several countries around the world including Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Tanzanian, Ugandan and Nicaraguan beans. They network with farmers from these countries when visiting coffee shows around the Northwest.
“We’re choosing their product that they put their blood, sweat and equity into,” Travis said.
Janelle said she and her husband enjoy learning the stories of each farmer and the journey the bean took from farm to coffee cup. She believes the customers appreciate those stories as well.
“People love to know where their food comes from,” she said.
While they want people to know about their coffee and chocolates, Janelle said she would like Purpose Roasters to be best known for its charity work.
Purpose Roasters donates 5 percent of its retail coffee bean profits to a different charity each month. This month, money will go toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. In November, the business will donate to a charity that benefits those with Alzheimer’s disease. After that, the public can vote for a charity every month by visiting the Purpose Roasters website.
She said the name of the business is connected to their charity work, because they hope that giving back to these organizations will help customers find a purpose.
“It felt like (Purpose Roasters) encompasses exactly what we’re trying to do here,” she said.