Craig Park – Green Coffee Buyer @ The Roasterie Cafes

After celebrating 25 years of coffee roasting, sales and service through their factory and satellite cafes,The Roasterie is well established as Kansas City’s premier locally owned coffee producer with cafes [now with 9 locations around the metro]. As proud members of the KC Originals the Powercard loyalty rewards card members can not only earn and use rewards points, but also participate in The Roasterie’s own frequent flyer discount program.  In the last couple of years they are experimenting with a new line of coffee products based on a cold brewing system and they are  getting great reviews of the “Cold Brew” and “Nitro” offerings. Their popularity has led them to release 3 naturally flavored cold brews this March, and we sat down with Craig Park, who helps oversee the entire cold brew production process, to “get the scoop” [so to speak].

Craig, a KC native, joined The Roasterie team about 4 yours ago, first as a Barista and management candidate at the Brookside Cafe location; until he was tapped to take on the multi-faceted work of overseeing Bean buying and production processes. His career path started with jobs in the grocery business [mostly Hyvee] during High School and college. While attending MIZZOU he moved into a management position with the Lucky’s Market in Columbia. There he learned invaluable management, personnel, purchasing and marketing skills handling their produce department laying the groundwork for this demanding Roasterie position.   

There he also met his wife, a nursing student who graduated and was offered employment at Children’s Mercy, so they moved back to KC, They spend most of their free time with friends and an extended family [especially 10 nieces and nephews].  Craig also likes to play disc-golf and is also a huge Royals fan – a fandom that started listening to Denny Matthews call the games on the radio while he hid under the covers to catch the action on late night contests. He’s excited by the current team and says they are “much improved” and looks for more pennant runs and wins. 

That  initial part-time gig at the Roasterie Cafe engendered a “total fascination with coffee and why it tastes different. I learned,’ he says “that where the bean comes from, how they are roasted and processed, brewed and served are all key”  In essence he was describing the breadth and depth of his current position starting with purchasing of beans from around the world to making sure that the finished product [packaged dry roasted beans and bean blends] to the brewed coffees served in their cafes] meets The Roasterie’s high quality standards.   One guiding principle of bean buying and all the steps that follow: “You can’t do great things with something that is not great!”  Of course, this resonates perfectly with the company philosophy of The Roasterie – that they are a “service company first that just happens to sell coffee.”  And service begins with high quality ingredients, employees that care about what they produce, excellent products, and dedication to making a difference for the community. 

All of this is integral to creating the 3 new Naturally Flavored Cold Brews.  Craig described the process for us – starting with the best dry roasted beans, the all-natural recipe [top secret]  that does not include any harmful additives that will spoil the taste , the lengthy steeping process in very cold water [37 degrees for at least 19 hours], blending with the flavor concentrates, – and finally canning or kegging to be stored cold.  We went with Craig down to the production room where you see him in the midst of the sparkling stainless steel tanks in our candid of him.  Afterwards we adjourned to the tasting room to sample all three new flavors. Our favorite, as choco-holics was the Chocolate Raspberry, but impressed with all 3. These 3, and all of The Roasterie’s Cold Brews, can be purchased at any of the 9 company cafes now and very soon in over 100 other retail outlets in the metro. 

Craig asked us to extend an invitation to all of you to come take a factory tour [offered 7 days a week and 2x on Sat] “to see how the magic is done.”  What a great idea!  Sign up for a tour and learn more about The Roasterie, locations, products and it’s fascinating KC history at www.theroasterie.com.  Look for Craig  [aka “Mr. Bean”} and tell him his KCO friends said hello.  

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