MADE IN NEVADA: Alpen Sierra Coffee Roasting Company

Published: Jan. 22, 2019 at 3:43 PM PST
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The sounds of calm relaxed conversation and light laughter grace Perenn Bakery in Reno's Midtown district most mornings. It's gaining a loyal following after opening during the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday season because of its pastries.

"I feel like I'm in some place in France. I feel like I'm in Europe. It's just a great place to gather," said Lisa Deal as she gently sips a cup of coffee with her husband Lee and friends Tyler and Bree.

One of the big draws along with the pasties is the coffee produced at

in Minden.

"It really has a lot of richness and body to it. It's a really nice coffee that you don't always get when you go out," said Lisa's husband, Lee.

Aubrey O'Laskey opened Perenn Bakery with her husband, and says serving ultra-high-end coffee is her only option, "Because our product is ultra-high-end as well. We get the best flour from Central Milling. The best butter. So you can't have a bad cup of coffee with a really good product."

This report is going to take you on a 4,500-mile journey from Columbia in South America, where many of the coffee beans are grown, to Minden, where they're roasted, and back into Perenn Bakery.

Christian Waskiewicz is the President and CEO of the company and says he takes sustainability seriously. He says he is deeply concerned with the impact his business has on every aspect of the people, countries, and land where he buys coffee beans.

"We want to ensure that the farmers who work so hard are living a thriving life," said Christian.

Many of the beans he buys are grown in Peru north of the Andes by the Cafe Femenino Co-op.

"The really nice thing down there was, within the traditional machismo Latin American societies, the woman were always getting in the background, so this Cafe Feminino movement is 100-percent women-powered process from seed to cup for coffee," Christian said.

Christian visits the areas of the world he buys beans from. "They're certified 100-percent women-processed and I witnessed that...we give back 5 percent of that to the Feminine Foundation."

He buys coffee beans from a total of 18 countries scattered between Central and South America, Pacific Indonesia, and East Africa. Christian says each sip is designed to give the land, the animals, and the people who pick the beans the best situation possible.

The women pack the beans and send them on cargo ships through San Francisco.

"Because we're in a high desert environment here (in Minden) and the moisture contents are lower, we bring in coffee every week so that it doesn't dry out so much," Christian said. "We've got Italian Roast, Vienna Roast, French Roast, and we have our proprietary blends, Big Red Tahoe."

He opens the bags to reveal the green beans. They turn brown during the roasting process, which starts the second phase of their journey to high end cafes and shops like Perenn Bakery.

He talked about his roaster as he scooped beans into a bin to prepare the coffee for local customers. A hose sucks the beans into the roaster.

Christian purchased a special coffee roasting machine from Santa Clara, California to continue with his model of sustainability. "We are able to reduce our gas usage and ultimately carbon footprint by up to 70 percent," he said. "Also it has a computerized control element so we're able to also work out production. Our efficiency gains are really wonderful through that."

Each bean requires a different kind of roast to bring out the peak flavor, "which best accentuates the characteristics of certain origin of coffee. For instance we do very tight roast for the east African because they have beautiful floral and fruit notes," he said.

Roast times can go anywhere from eight to 16 minutes and temperatures can range anywhere from 390 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. It just really depends on the degree of roast for each specialized cup of coffee.

In contrast the Indonesian coffees have a rougher character and tone so a darker roast brings out the best in these beans, because it helps to caramelize the natural sugars.

The Alpen Sierra Coffee Roasting Company also blends different coffee beans to produce refined tastes for northern Nevada customers to enjoy. The coffee is then packed and shipped to local cafes and restaurants.

"It makes this cup of coffee all the more special, really," Lisa said. "This has a history and it has a reason and I think we have both with it comes to Perenn." Lisa said.

In all nine people work at the Alpen Sierra Coffee Roasting Company.

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