The aroma of coffee fills the room as Jacob Limmer, proud owner of Cottonwood Coffee lets the freshly roasted beans spin to cool. With a keen eye on his computer, monitoring the temperature of the beans, Limmer works to perfect his next roast.
“I would say the most important thing about roasting is really understanding how to interpret the results of the roast and to optimize the quality of the coffee,” Limmer said.
Cottonwood is expanding its business in a variety of ways, including opening up a new seating section at the downtown location and adding more products for sale on their website.
The new space downtown features more seating and many outlets for coffee lovers to sit, sip and enjoy in a quieter, more private setting as compared to the bustling front of the location.
“When I study, I like to have a little bit of noise, but not a lot,” South Dakota State University nursing student Emily Buysse said. “It’s big enough that there can be other people, but it’s not super big, so it’s not loud or obnoxious.”
Limmer opened the downtown Cottonwood location in 2006 as a way to make extra income over the winter in the off-season of farming. Self-taught, he started roasting beans in 2012 when he saw an opportunity to source quality beans and make specialty coffee.
“[Cottonwood roasting its own beans] adds value to (our) products, offers customers a unique coffee and ensures quality control with the potential to expand into the wholesale market,” Limmer said.
Reservations are available for private events, groups and more. In the future, a glass wall with a view into the roasting room will be installed for customers to get a look at the roasting process.
“I’m excited for a new space to study in, a bigger space and more outlets,” Melinda Desmith, a Cottonwood customer and SDSU nursing student said. “I drink coffee often. So I’m interested to see how it’s roasted and how it’s made.”
Further expansions include coffee pods of Cottonwood’s signature blends, which became available for purchase online in the last month.
These single-serve pods can be used in a Keurig or other single-serve coffee makers, and come in the choice of an eight-pack or 20-pack. Customers can expect to see the new coffee pods in-store by mid-October. Bags of roasted coffee and other products can also be purchased at cottonwoodcoffee.com.
Cottonwood also seeks to wholesale their custom-roasted beans.
“We target wholesale clients,” Limmer said. He tells clients, “If we’re not as good or better and cheaper, then don’t use us.”
Desmith chooses Cottonwood for the coffee and the atmosphere and describes Cottonwood coffee as tasting better and fresher than other coffee shops.
“I like to come here with friends to get coffee or to study,” she said. “I’m also excited to try the k-cups because I really like their coffee.”
Someday, Cottonwood hopes to transition into directly sourcing its beans, initially from Central America and to establish relationships with the farmers who grow their beans. That way, Cottonwood will have access to higher quality products.
With direct-sourcing beans, Limmer said that he can guarantee “that our company’s values and our farmers’ values are aligned.”
Cottonwood roasts 150 to 250 pounds of beans each roast day. With roasting about three days per week, the goal by the end of the year is to increase that volume by 400%. According to Limmer, the roast numbers already have tripled since Cottonwood started roasting its own beans. With an accelerated plan, Cottonwood is preparing for growth in the next few years.
“Anybody can come run this,” Limmer said about the roaster. “The biggest differentiator between good roasters and just average lies in whether one knows what you roasted is good, or not good enough.”