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Daniel Randall, Partners Brewing Success with Green Star Coffee

Staying true to their philosophy — good for you, better for farmers, best for the planet — is paying off

I came across the Green Star Coffee booth at Santa Barbara’s Earth Day Festival and spoke to one of its roasters about the importance of sourcing organic and the value of specialty coffee. I decided to take a trip to its Goleta office to see for myself.

Daniel Randall greeted me with an offer for cappuccino, which I gladly accepted. A former Army Airborne combat medic turned logistics officer, Randall made five beverages in a row — one for each person in the office. With perfect foam and a smooth, creamy taste, it was undeniably delicious.

Watching Randall make an espresso drink told me how he would do just about everything — exact.

A Santa Barbara native, Randall’s first job was as an auto mechanic. As a returning member of the military, he went back to school at SBCC on the G.I. Bill. At the same time, he began working as a barista at Santa Barbara Roasting Co. There, he learned to roast and run the business during his eight years and met several of his future partners of Green Star Coffee.

With the money in their pockets, Randall and several partners decided to take the leap to create their own venture. Now in its seventh year, Green Star Coffee, a fully owner-operated company, has enjoyed measured, steady growth.

“We built a company that we’d all want to work for,” Randall said.

While having a socially responsible business, the partners also pride themselves on offering a premium, all-organic product that is hand-roasted under the direction of experienced eyes. They chose the name because it reflects their philosophy: Good for you, better for farmers, best for the planet.

On the topic of organic coffee, Randall said pesticides cause harm all along the chain — from the farmer to the runoff water to the customer. Often, if the coffee beans (or tea) aren’t washed or treated well enough, a high concentration of pesticide will be passed along to the customer unwittingly. In addition to being organic, Green Star Coffee is meticulous about where it gets its beans, who mills them and how they are roasted.

“Many large companies roast en masse by machine process,” Randall said. “One guy is pushing a button that controls a whole room of roasting. We have someone smelling the beans, watching the color shift and making decisions throughout the process.”

Randall provided an overview of how roasting works. The average roast time is about 14 minutes. The time difference between a light roast coffee and a dark roast coffee is only about two minutes in the roaster. The first nine minutes or so of the roast time is dedicated to driving off the unchemically bound water until “first crack” occurs. Named for the popping sounds created by the liberation of chemically bound water, it’s really because of the expansion of water vapor; first crack denotes the beginning of pyrolysis — when the chemical nature of the bean begins to change, volatile aromatics form and astringent cholorgenic acids roast out while sweet aliphatic acids — such as those in fruit and wine — form.

Two minutes later, the second crack occurs. Caused by caramelizing sugars, second crack is a significant benchmark in the roasting process, and the rate of chemical changes in the coffee really gains momentum beyond this point.

One minute later, the coffee is a dark cinnamon color and is considered fully developed as second crack finishes. During the next 60 seconds, the color of the beans becomes a deep mahogany color and they become coated in a light sheen of oil.

Within the last minute of the roast, the coffee changes to the color of bittersweet chocolate and is completely covered in a gloss of oil. Coffees roasted this dark will have a smoky character and subdued acidity as acids continually roast away during the course of the roast.

Randall did debunk a myth about espresso: They are not different beans, but rather a smoother style of roast, as espresso machines tend to exaggerate bean characteristics.

Green Star Coffee is brewed at Jitters, Coffee Cat, Jane and Wine Cask. For local residents, orders can be made online at www.greenstarcoffee.com and picked up at the roasting office at 6489 Calle Real. Green Star Coffee roasts to order and packages on site, so order in advance.

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of her work.

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