Actual Coffee is Both Sustainable and Exceptional
While the flavor and quality of Toledo’s own Actual Coffee speaks for itself, the one thing that stands out to me most about the company are the words of the owner himself: “I wanted to be a healthy cog in the coffee roasting business.” Lance, chief coffee roaster and founder of Actual Coffee, has a passion for ethically sourced, finely roasted coffee and the stories behind his hometown venture. His business mirrors his coffee, a labor of love, not born overnight, cultivated, handcrafted, and worth every bean.
Four months ago I declared that if I am to only have one cup of coffee a day, it was going to be darn good coffee. Freshly ground, locally roasted coffee only. High maintenance? … I like to call it high standards, and let me just say – my one and only pregnancy demand. We have been long supporters of fresh, locally roasted coffee. It was always in the house, and to Starbucks dismay, our preferred way to buy coffee. It was our evening/weekend coffee, not our morning jolt to functionality. Well, not anymore. One good cup, still to be enjoyed; savored during my few minutes of morning peace before work. On the weekends, it’s the quiet morning pour over, that starts with opening that bag of beans and taking in the sweet smell of coffee roasted this week, right here in Toledo. Ahh, the little things I expect to come to a screeching halt come late January. Not the coffee, just the peace and quiet of solitude.
For this Simply Jess 1 year anniversary post (woohoo!!) I wanted to bring back coffee. Darn good coffee! The Toledo coffee roasting movement has grown tremendously over the past few years, and one of the major players has been Actual Coffee. Roasting beans since 2012 as a business, Lance Roper found his niche in the third wave, ethically sourced, coffee movement that had finally made its way to Toledo, Ohio. Upon reading a book of coffee history, Uncommon Grounds, Lance found himself challenged by the social and environmental consequences that come from big corporation coffee consumption. This luxury product so vastly consumed by first world countries, created modern-day slaves to the coffee industry at the root, the farms in which the coffee berries are grown and harvested. But he also found that consciously sourcing coffee distributors worked with old farms that cared as much for their workers, as the product they were growing. Actual Coffee was born, out of an effort to make a positive contribution to the coffee buying industry. Lance wanted to sell coffee that was sustainable, both environmentally and socially, but was a hands down superior, top quality product. “If you put our coffee next to a big brand’s take on coffee, you’d know which one was Actual Coffee.” Awesome.
Actual Coffee has seen the largest growth through word of mouth. Starting with Bleak House Coffee, Lance would practically volunteer hours at the coffee shop in order to get his roasts out to the public. Not too long later Becky Ohm, from the Flying Joe, approached Actual Coffee about distribution in their store. This has been a great, long standing relationship that has encouraged creativity though both business. Next, came an urgent request from DaCapo Coffee in Temperance, MI. DaCappo became a milestone for Actual Coffee, as this is the only coffee they serve to their customers. It has not only resulted in major growth, but new ideas as well. Element 112 became the first fine restaurant to serve Actual Coffee, and Walt Churchill’s the first grocer. Most recently Lance also had the opportunity to bring his coffee back to the downtown area with distribution to Rustbelt Coffee and Creamery. Each a new business relationship, and each a new way to get the people of Toledo familiar to where there coffee dollar is going.
The picture I see is that conscious coffee is part of a larger practice of conscious spending. When you shop at a local business, who buys from a local vendor, who buys from an ethical sourcer, who buys from a sustainable farm, and each business along the chain has employees that have a face, a name, a family, a story who are taken care of through good business practices. Have you ever thought your hard earned dollars could impact a world of people just by buying good coffee?
So, why Toledo? Why grow slow and organically in Northwest Ohio as opposed to moving to a place much larger where people are used to paying more for goods or a place where craft coffee is expected? At Actual Coffee headquarters, this passionate one man operation and his 20-pound an hour roaster sees the value in Toledo. “I love downtown and we’ve come so far.” Although, Lance takes a very calculated, and scientific approach to roasting coffee, he also takes pride in sharing the flavors that interest him with the community. Toledoians seem to favor fruity, Ethiopian roasts, but what most may not realize is this is a competition level coffee that we get to enjoy. Each roast is so unique, and the single origin roasts have been so well received that with input from coffee shops and consumers Lance recently stepped out of the box to created a truly unique espresso blend. While blend used to be a bit of a dirty word to a single origin roaster, this espresso has the ability to encompass the best Brazil, Ethiopian, and Central American flavors in one tiny cup. This espresso can stand alone, and doesn’t need to be masked by steamed milk and flavors; but if that is your preference, it will make your drink even better.
While Lance continues to pursue growth and development to expand capacity for Actual Coffee, he is also continually working to be a well trained, educated, and multi service coffee expert. He works hard to constantly learn and improve techniques, and offer full services to the coffee chops in the area to help them grow through better equipment as well. Lance put great importance on the equipment you use to make your coffee. The quality of your water, grinder, and your brewing method are what make a great cup of coffee.
The coffee you buy isn’t about the label, claims, or certification that a company has slapped on the front. It’s about where it started. Do you know where your coffee truly originates from? Buying from a small batch, artisan coffee roaster means you not only have the opportunity to know where it comes from, but you can also trust in the supply chain. That hard earned money you spend on coffee makes a much greater impact than you would believe, and it starts here at home. Be Local.
Surprise!! Happy Anniversary Actual Coffee Giveaway!!! Actual Coffee believes so much in their beans they want you to have the opportunity to try a bag of hand crafted, specialty Toledo roasted coffee! It’s roasters choice; Lance is going to roast the winner a fresh bag of Actual Coffee and it will be mailed straight to your house! What you have to do is (1) Like BOTH Actual Coffee’s Facebook page and The Simply Jess Blog Facebook page. (2) Share the post we have on both of our pages to your Facebook page. The caption must have the #BeLocal #ToledoCoffee. Shares must be made by 5pm Friday (8/19/2016). We will contact you via Facebook by Sunday 8/21/2016 to let you know if you won. Enjoy!