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