Paradise Roasters in Ramsey

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

How much of an impact can a distributor/roaster such as Paradise Roasters have on your coffee? Considerable, as it turns out. Careful roasters roast small batches, vigilant against over-roasting or even burning the beans. They comb the world, aggressively seeking out intriguing and hard-to-find new varieties. They pick through batches by hand to weed out individual defective beans. And they constantly evaluate their product to make sure it hasn’t started to go south — tasting, re-tasting, and re-tasting again, ranking, re-ranking, and re-ranking again.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

This particular two-person (plus part-time help) micro operation roasts about 35,000 pounds of beans a year, in individual batches that max out at around 20 pounds. For a sense of scale: anything smaller than a 100,000-pound-a-year company is considered a “micro” roaster. That said: Paradise has performed well enough to merit a listing in Food & Wine as one of the top ten boutique roasters in the US, and a mention in National Geographic’s Passport to the Best: The 10 Best of Everything book. “We buy strictly on quality and distinctiveness,” says Aaron Meza, explaining the leeway that the comparatively small and nimble company enjoys. Paradise is primarily dedicated to selling its coffee online to dedicated (and demanding) individual customers, rather than handling major wholesale accounts. The caliber of the coffee shops that use Paradise coffee speaks to its reputation — Kopplin’s in St. Paul is highly regarded by java fanatics, and Black Sheep used Paradise beans until its recent acquisition of its own roasting operation.

Paradise handles intriguing exotics (such as Monkey Parchment animal processed coffee), sophisticated blended coffees (such as “Romance by Paradise” — note that “romance” is an anagram for “no cream”), and single origin coffees such as its popular Sumatra Danau Toba variety. Coffees range in price from $10 a pound up to about $50, with some special types selling by the 4-oz packet for far more.

The future of Paradise is open — the loss of founding staffer and world-renowned coffee-hound Miguel Meza to Hula Daddy in Hawaii and the recession’s impact on small roasters’ ability to move large amounts of premium beans in a timely fashion are both significant challenges. But the roaster’s reputation for purveying original coffees and aggressive dedication to quality are both significant long-term assets.

Paradise Roasters
6250 Bunker Lake Blvd #211
Ramsey, MN 55303
763.433.0626
OWNERS: Deborah and Robert Meza
HOURS: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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8 Comments

  1. James, I’ve noticed the bevy of coffee posts on here, which is great, but, as with wine, has it managed to alter your coffee palate? Or are you still going decidedly lowbrow for your morning cup of joe? Filling it to the rim with Brim and such.

  2. Author

    It’s a work in progress. The real key is that someone needs to direct me to a sophisticated and drinkable middle ground between the $5 cup at Kopplin’s — which is worth every penny — and the Folger’s Breakfast Blend I drink most mornings. Working with Eric Faust (one of our writers, and a roaster himself) has been enlightening — I’ve gotten a much better feel for the subtleties of coffee, and also for why so much middle-brow and even fancy restaurant coffee tastes like crap… which is, to speak bluntly, because it is crap.

  3. Not another post about coffee, beer, or cheese. Really.

  4. Paradise Roasters does right by me.

  5. Oh, and ….
    I drink coffee. I drink beer. I eat cheese. I enjoy these articles. Really.

Trackbacks for this post

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