Home News Local News Red Horse Coffee Traders on Joseph's Main Street is all about the beans
Red Horse Coffee Traders on Joseph's Main Street is all about the beans
Roasted coffee is the newest addition to a whole host of locally crafted offerings on Joseph’s Main Street.
Red Horse Coffee Traders opened its doors this month with its own roasts of coffee beans from around the world and baked good made in their kitchen.
Mike and Kathy Leo roasted and sold coffee in Hailey, Idaho, south of Sun Valley for eight years, learning and practicing the trade of roasting coffee beans and pairing them with baked confections.
The business was very popular and the Leos eventually sold their Hailey Coffee Co. and moved to Bozeman, Mont., where Mike worked in the solar energy industry. They continued roasting as a side business while in Bozeman, but soon they missed small-town life.
While pondering what to do next, Mike found roasting equipment on Craigslist exactly like they had used in Hailey and decided to go back into the coffee business.
Joseph fit what they were looking for in a small town and a few months ago the Leos, Kathy’s mother, Rheta Runnerstrom, and her sister, Jackie Rosser, relocated to run a family business on the north end of Main Street.
“This is a place we were drawn to and the community is so engaging,” said Kathy. “We’re here to make it our home.”
In three short months the Leos transformed a small house into a coffee shop and bakery with help from Rosser, Runnerstrom and the Leos’ kids who attend college at the University of Idaho in Moscow.
“My mother was the leader of the demo crew,” said Kathy.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, with the kids home from school and a team offriends supported by Terminal Gravity Pale Ale, the interior walls of the entire building were hand-textured with sheet rock mud to give it an old-fashioned, plaster look, said Kathy.
The fir flooring was donated by artist Steve Arment on the condition they get it out of his shop. Arment added his signature wood carvings to the project over the archway that separates the coffee shop from the kitchen.
But Red Horse Coffee Traders is really about the beans. Mike said the difference between coffee beans begins with the different regions of the globe where they are grown, their soils and their climates.
The Leos told a story about how the discovery of coffee may have been by Ethiopian goats. Herders noticed their goats were very energetic after eating coffee berries in their raw form. Ethiopians eventually discovered how to dry the berries, extract the beans, roast and grind them to create a most blessed beverage. By the sixth century they were exporting their new-found delight to Turkey.
In the last 25 years coffee has grown into a luxury commodity, and drinkers have refined their tastes as well as their politics regarding the beans’ source and how they aregrown. The Leos buy only organic, shade-grown, fair trade beans.
“Shade grown coffee as opposed to coffee trees grown on terraces is a more natural environment and less stress for the plant,” said Mike.
Finding a bean they like can have its risks. The supply of White Nile, a bean from Uganda, dried up when the country erupted in civil war. The 2004 Tsunami in Asia destroyed the region’s infrastructure and Sumatra beans became difficult to access.
Another impediment in the industry, Kathy said, was that the cost of coffee beans has doubled in the past five years. For now, the market has plateaued.
“There are a lot of different factors affecting the market like world economics, shipping costs, politics and natural disasters,” said Kathy.
Sourcing good beans is half the battle while finding the perfect roast is the other half. The Sivetz roaster the Leos use blows around and lifts the beans, creating an even temperature around each bean.
Mike said he roasts each batch for the same amount of time. The only variance he uses is changing the temperature. Some beans can withstand being roasted at differenttemperatures yielding different flavors while some beans are best roasted at only one temperature.
Over the years Mike has perfected his roasts through research and trial and error and a lot of tasting and sampling. To sample Red Horse’s coffee for yourself, visit them on Main St. in Joseph from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.