No matter how busy life gets, especially around the holidays, there is one thing that is guaranteed to slow the world down, even if it’s just for 20 minutes: a piping hot, perfectly aromatic cup of coffee. Unfortunately, more often than not, people drink their cups of Joe without consideration for the process that is put into their to-go mugs. Luckily, Neige LaRue of Snow Street Coffee has always felt that coffee was a special force that had the capacity to slow life down and bring people closer together with just one sip, and she was generous enough to share her story and process with Boulder Lifestyle and our readers.
Neige, where are you from?
“Going way back… My family moved to the Big Island of Hawaii when I was 9 months old. We lived up the mountain (“up mauka”) in the Kona Coffee Belt.”
Did growing up in Hawaii influence your passion for coffee and roasting?
“Growing up in this geographical region you develop a deep respect for the coffee plant and all of the hard work that goes into farming it, processing it and roasting it. It is said that the kids in Kona (“keikis”) help pick the coffee cherry as soon as they can tell the difference between green and red.”
So from a very young age you knew you would work with coffee beans?
“Not necessarily… As life went on I moved to California, went to college, got married, started working in the New York Financial District and then the 2009 financial crisis happened and I lost my job… I also happened to be pregnant with my first child. I spent about a year figuring out what I wanted to do with my career and all roads led back to coffee.”
What exactly does starting from square one look and feel like for a coffee roaster?
“I started out as a home roaster on a Behmor 1600 Plus, asking my dad to send me green beans from our friends and family who are still farming coffee in Hawaii. From there I roasted on a fluid bed roaster and eventually graduated to a small batch drum roaster. I sought out training with the roast master of Portland’s premier Craft Coffee Company and have continued my training and education through the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Roaster’s Guild.”
Your coffee education led you to Snow Street Coffee, what exactly do you do there?
“At Snow Street Coffee I sell specialty grade coffee with a cupping score of 85 or higher and everything is purchased using “Farm Gate” pricing which is 50-100 percent above Fair Trade minimums. Additionally, as a woman and mother in this male-dominant coffee-roasting world, I feel it is my responsibility to give back to the women at origin, where the coffee is grown. For that reason 3 percent of Snow Street’s profits are used to micro-finance women-owned and operated businesses in the coffee growing regions of Honduras. Additionally, I have recently become involved with the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and am looking forward to getting more involved with them in the future.
Where can our readers buy Snow Street Coffee?
Snow Street Coffee is primarily sold online ( SnowStreetCoffee.com) with shipping available nationwide and free local delivery in Boulder County. For local purchases you can go to Lucky’s Market or stop into Moxie Bread Co. on Main Street in Louisville for a cup of coffee or a bag of beans.
Would you mind sharing a bit about the Bean to Cup Process?
///01. The coffee plant is typically grown between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn in equatorial climates with sufficient elevation.
///02. Similar to apples, coffee can be classified in many groups. Most commonly we distinguish coffee as Arabica and Robusta. Specialty Coffee is made up of coffee classified in the Arabica species.
///03. The coffee plant produces fruit and once picked, this fruit is processed. There are multiple methods of processing coffee and they involve the removal of many outer layers of the fruit, drying out the coffee bean (or the pit of the fruit) and preparing for export and roasting.
///04. When roasting, coffee changes both physically and chemically. There are numerous types of roasting machinery and countless methods of roasting. Each roaster relies on science, training, cupping and their instincts to develop the perfect roast profile for each coffee.
Article Keeley Mahanes
Photography Kelsey Huffer