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Evansville
Saturday, August 20, 2022

Backyard Brew

After searching for the perfect business to open, Terry and Jody Van Bibber — and their neighbors — found an unusual aroma in the air: coffee. Tucked away in what was a small storage building at the side of their home, the Van Bibber’s roast their own coffee beans. “I knew it had to be a business that we would love to do, and coffee was one of those businesses,” says Terry. In December 2007, their little shack in the back became the start of their brewing business, TJ’s Roaster.

During a two-week trip to Idaho for roasting training with Diedrich Manufacturing, a coffee roasting company with roots in Guatemala, Terry learned how to use the company’s commercial roasters. The Van Bibber’s use a red, Diedrich IR-7 roaster themselves, and are called artesian roasters because they only make specialty-quality coffee.

Although working from home has its luxuries, the couple promises it’s a laborious endeavor to produce 200 pounds of coffee each day. The initial roasting is the easy part, only taking about 16 minutes to complete, but it’s the blending that takes the most time and creativity. To get their desired taste, Terry and Jody mix different blends of coffee beans together, often taking more than 10 hours and 40 pounds of beans to get the roasting blend just right. Once they have it, the roasting information is recorded and stored in the roaster’s computerized database for future reference. The Diedrich roasts up to 11 pounds at a time. “We only roast on a need-to-need basis,” Jody says. “That way it is always freshly roasted.”

Each batch of roasted coffee beans are kept for two weeks, with extras given to local food banks or homeless shelters. However, the coffee packaged and sold in stores will stay fresh for up to two months because it’s sealed in special one-way valve coffee bags.

Terry and Jody roast only Arabica coffee beans. “They are high-mountain grown, hand harvested, and qualify as specialty coffee,” Terry says. Altogether, they have created six different blends ranging in taste, with their breakfast blend as their bestseller.

Over the past five years, business has boomed for TJ’s, and expansion is in the near future with plans to move to a bigger space and add another roaster. “We would like to start making flavored coffee, too,” Jody says.

Currently, TJ’s Roaster coffee is available in wholesale and at local retail stores including Salad World (West), Mike Libs and the Chocolate Factory, Basket Kases, Evansville’s Schnucks Super Markets, and The Pactre. They also offer custom labeling, packaging, and contract roasting and sell Bunn and Baratza coffee equipment for restaurants, hotels, offices, and at-home use.

TJ’s Roaster is located at 11835 Old Highway 66. Orders may be placed for next-day pickup or delivery by calling 812-985-9615. Visit www.tjsroaster.com for more information and retail locations. TJ’s Roaster also does out of town mailings.

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