Nick March – Production Manager
“The beans never stop moving… I mean really, from the moment they stop growing until they end up in someone’s cup, they don’t stop … and neither do we,” laughs Nick March, the Production Manager at Desert Sun Coffee. Watching Nick and his counterpart Zachary Ray, the Head Roaster, it is easy to see why they never stop moving. In an average week, these two adamant individuals blend, roast, process, package and distribute over 2000 lbs of organic and fair-trade coffee. “It’s all about the workflow”, says Nick as he preps the vacuum bags that are about to be filled with a batch of coffee that has just cooled. Over the roar of the roaster he yells, “Zach, I bet ya I can do this batch in six minutes flat!” Zach, glancing away from the churning and rumbling roaster yells, “ well let’s see it then… and we have two more batches after this”.
Nick turns back to the workbench where he begins to weigh and package the freshly roasted coffee. The bench is covered in different sized bags, colorful labels, bearing the names of foreign countries where the beans originated, and stickers signifying special blends for customers. After the coffee is weighed and put in the appropriate package, it is sealed and inventoried. Within a day, most of the beans are transported to coffee houses and markets in the Durango and larger Southwest region. The remaining are shipped out to other parts of the U.S..
Zachary Ray – Head Roaster
As I move across the production floor, to the roaster and the colorful computer screens that chart the beans Zach’s roasting, I ask, “What about the green beans?” Before he turns to answer my question, he cocks his head to the side as he listens and takes note of some minuscule change in the sound of the thundering roaster. Looking over to me with a laugh he says, “not only do I have to pay close attention to the beans we’re actually roasting, but I have to be on top of all the green beans in our ultra-lean inventory”. Zach then steps away from the roaster, to the adjacent set of computer screens, excel sheets, and live-streamed information provided by Cooperative Coffees. That essential info, detailing the whereabouts and condition of coffees making their way from three different continents, to this small warehouse in Durango.
- Nick and Zach on the production floor at Desert Sun
Although every two weeks, a new shipment of green beans gets brought in to the Roastery, Zach has to be up to speed on the ever-changing coffee markets across the globe, forecast Desert Sun’s green bean consumption, and commit to purchases three to four months in advance. Which can be challenging… proving the point, he goes on to say, “Through our supplier, Cooperative Coffees, we import beans from over a dozen countries across the globe. We get some of our beans from a farming cooperative in Peru, and recently there was a fisherman’s strike there. Due to the strike, nothing is entering or leaving the ports. So, I have to adjust our blends, and the volumes that we roast, to accommodate those beans being unavailable.” This being just one example of how the two-man team that works the production floor, has to adapt and react to the global economy it participates in.
Nick turns and yells, “Got it, under six minutes!“, as he seals the last bag of coffee, inventories it, and walks back to his station, beginning to prep for the next batch of roast Zach will send him. Zach laughs, and turns back to the roaster, already loaded with raw beans, and begins the next roast cycle.
Watching these two people, work with every bean that comes into Desert Sun, and every bag of roast that leaves it… It truly seems, like it is the beans themselves, that don’t allow these two gentlemen to stop moving.
Photo Credits: Alex Pullen of Perins Peak Photography