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Rocklin coffee proprietor roasting his own beans for two decades

By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Know and Go:

What: Edwin’s Coffee

Address: 2600 Sunset Blvd., Rocklin

Telephone: 916-632-9753

Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays

 

For more than 20 years, Edwin Johnson has roasted coffee beans in a small strip mall on Sunset Boulevard in Rocklin.

Johnson started working at the location, 2600 Sunset Blvd., in 1996.

“I’ve owned it for 12 years and worked for original proprietors for 10 years before that, 22 years doing the same thing. It will be 23 years in February,” Johnson said Friday.

“From day one, and for the first year, it was Rainforest Coffee and Tea; it had an Asian theme to it,” Johnson added. “A year later, the boyfriend bought out the girlfriend. At the time, we knew we had to roast our own coffee and it was renamed Sierra Roasting until 2006.”

Johnson, in the grocery business for 10 years before learning the coffee business, had never worked a counter job.

“I moved to the area, rented a room and went to Sierra College to study biology,” Johnson said. “I needed a job and I really got into the coffee thing, the roasting. I was always into cooking and baking at home. I ended up learning the coffee trade.”

Last Friday afternoon saw a steady stream of customers at Edwin’s Coffee. Some sat on the patio enjoying shade from the trees. The coffee shop has a cozy atmosphere with comfortable cushioned chairs and classic rock on in the background. The case has muffins, scones, quiche and desserts, made by Johnson’s mother.

Rocklin residents John Baum III and Brittany LaLonde live nearby and enjoy Edwin’s Coffee.

“This was the first place we stopped when we moved here,” Baum said. “There is such a welcoming vibe here; it invites you to stay. They have the best customer service.”

Charlie Voong, a Rocklin business owner, said it was time for an EMF, an espresso mocha freeze.

“The coffee smells good and tastes good, way better than (a national brand). Other places use a lot of sugar and syrup. Here you can taste the coffee, it wakes you up,” Voong said. “It’s amazing. Rich flavor and taste. Four things make a successful business: customer service, quality product, clean and good environment.”

Johnson said he never trained to roast coffee anywhere else.

“Keeping it fresh is important,” Johnson said. “Coffee is like bread. If you get it from the baker, it’s better than the grocery store.”

“When we were learning to roast, we took two perspectives: the American Coffee Association had a pamphlet showing the colors of different roasts but that didn’t sit well because when we were making espressos, we received critiques from two elderly Italian men, Mario and Pete,” Johnson said. “We decided at the time not to roast to as high a temperature as the American Coffee Association standard and instead tailored the roasting to Mario and Pete’s specifications.”

If a coffee bean sits around for a while, according to Johnson, the oil gets rancid and it begins to degrade after 10 days. Johnson roasts beans three to four days per week, depending on need. He has customers who travel from Grass Valley and Sacramento to stock up on his coffee.

“I don’t add anything and I buy my coffee from the same distributor as other small coffee shops,” Johnson said. “You take the raw product and what you do with it is key.”

“When roasting, I’m not going by the temperature but by the sight and smell,” Johnson added. “Just like a baker, it takes time to get a feel for the product. I’ve never worked on a bigger roaster than the one I have. I roast six pounds at a time and I have a little more control over each batch. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong or right; I’m just doing it.”

Being his own boss has advantage for Johnson.

“What’s nice about owning your own business is that I can do family stuff a lot more,” Johnson said. “I may lose a little income sometimes but you never get the 6 year old at the zoo back again. Also, I can watch them here when I have to. I’m generally open at 7 a.m. unless I have to take the kids to school.”

“My mom does the baking; quiche, cheese cakes, loaves, scones, muffins. We have breakfast egg sandwiches and I will do custom-order breakfast as well,” Johnson added. “I tell customers to order from your imagination. I don’t have banana milkshakes on the menu but I have bananas and ice cream.”