There’s no doubt about it, coffee is on the rise, but don’t take my word for it. According to a Jan. 18 article in Atlantic Monthly, the consumption of coffee has increased 50% in the last ten years, whereas soda guzzling, the refresher of choice for decades in America, has dropped 40%.
How is this possible? Well, for one thing, Americans are becoming more health conscious. For another, coffee brewing isn’t just for Mrs. Olsen anymore and Folgers is no longer the best we can hope for. Best of all, coffee roasting is no longer a mystery, carried out by secretive coffee scientists in hidden java labs run by Proctor and Gamble.
In fact, the art of coffee roasting is alive and well in a little warehouse off Harrelson St. in south Las Cruces, where veteran barista Beck Rosnick works her darkly aromatic magic. She can be found most Wednesdays and Saturdays, plying her trade at the Farmer’s Market on Main St., just south of the Rio Grande Theatre. Hers is a passion that becomes evident in every sip, savor and swallow.
“I love it. I always say that the barista is the bartender the morning after the night before,” she said. “I love coffee. Really that’s the number one reason. You’ve got to have a passion for the product. I’ve just always really enjoyed it.”
Rosnick started her love affair with the coffee bean when she was 15 years old and stumbled into a job as a barista at a shopping center in her home city of Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia. She hasn’t looked back since.
“I just sort of fell into it and it felt like home,” she said. “I loved it. I loved that I could be a barista anywhere in the world. I’ve worked as a barista in Ireland, in London, in Brisbane and Las Cruces. I also bartended in Ireland and Las Cruces and think working with people on a coffee high is a lot more fun than working with people who are just there to get drunk.”
It wasn’t until she hit Las Cruces in 2000, however, that the real love affair began. Taking jobs working with everyone from Starbucks to Spirit Winds, she explored the ins and outs of coffee culture. Then she went to work for Bernie Digman at Milagro Coffee y Espresso.
“That’s where I learned how to roast,” she said. “Bernie is my mentor when it comes to roasting. I apprenticed with him for about two years, before becoming Milagro’s roaster and manager for four years.”
For some, it’s hard to imagine that Beck’s Coffee has only been around for two and a half years. She purchased her first roaster in May 2010, when the owners of The Bean in Mesilla decided they needed to upgrade and sold her theirs.
“It took two months to get to know one another,” she said. “Roasting is, I think, very individual. You’ve got to get to know your machinery. I had friends sample the coffee, so I could perfect it and it would have some continuity to it before I started the business officially in July. We started going down to the Farmer’s Market in mid-October.”
By her own admission, everything just sort of fell into place at that point. “My original plan was to serve and deliver coffee to businesses in town, but so many individuals at the businesses I was serving wanted the coffee and I wasn’t about to say no. Somebody suggested the Farmer’s Market and it took probably two months to get that underway, just because I didn’t know how I was going to brew fresh coffee without electricity. I learned to boil my water in a turkey boiler and now I brew it fresh by the cup.”
None would argue that this is the true secret to Beck’s success. The fact that her coffee is fresh roasted, literally the day before, is a huge plus, but having it brewed right in front of you, as you wait, means the result is pure aromatic heaven when it arrives, accompanied by the brightest of smiles.
In fact, demand has been so high for Beck’s Coffee that its owner recently had to upgrade to a larger roaster. She has been using her new Diedrich IR5, a five kilo roaster, since just before Christmas and finds herself roasting every day, except market days.
“I usually roast twice on Fridays, sometimes twice on Tuesdays,” she said.
By her estimate, Beck roasts at least 50 pounds of coffee a day. “I guess I do about 500 pounds a week total,” she said. “About 40 or 50 batches a week.”
Such volume is necessary, not just because of individual demand at the Farmer’s Market and regular customers to whom she delivers on a daily basis, but because these days she also supplies her coffee to various retail locations and restaurants in town.
“I have twelve different varieties at the Co-op,” she said. “I have it at Main Street Bistro, I have it Josefina’s Gate, I have it at Spirit Winds and I’m going to have it at the Co-op’s new café that’s opening on Water Street. I used to have it at SB’s Lunchbox, when it was in that location.”
It’s a local success story that any city would be proud of, but Rosnick loves to point out that none of it would be possible without her customers.
“My customers, for the most part, are just phenomenal,” she said. “Really lovely people. You get the age range, too. You get the wonderful older couples, you get college kids, you get young moms and everything in-between. The people you get to interact with are just really special, in my experience. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
This article originally appeared in the January 25, 2013 issue of the Las Cruces Bulletin. All rights reserved. Under no circumstances shall the Las Cruces Bulletin or its associates be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special or consequential addictions caused by the use or misuse of the heavenly brew that is Beck’s Coffee. Also, if you spill it, it’s your own damned fault.