Coffee Business Booming in O'Neill

An O'Neill business is roasting coffee in small batches to bring out memorable flavor profiles.

Pure Nebraska recently visited Jim Bean Coffee, where green coffee beans are micro-roasted. Micro-roasting coffee beans is a trend that's been growing around the country. Jim Loutzenhiser is having big success with his business in O'Neill. "We buy the green (coffee) beans, we roast them, and we focus on developing the flavor and the taste within the bean," Loutzenhiser said. "We also focus on freshness, and being able to supply coffee to people that's been roasted within a week or so."

The beans the company uses are bought from different areas around the world. Loutzenhiser roasts the beans in a church kitchen in O'Neill, and he has a 6 pound roaster. He heats the beans, and carefully watches the profile, ensuring that the beans are being heated at the proper rate so that he can get the best flavor from the bean. "It depends upon whether it's a hard bean or a soft bean, if it's high elevation, or if it's an Asian bean," Loutzenhiser said. "Each one of them really have a roast profile, and it makes a big difference if you go with a temperature one way or another. It's really a fine art."

Loutzenhiser uses computer software to watch the beans as they roast to make sure the temperature is just right. "When we are finished roasting, we dump the beans into a cooling tray, to stop the heating process," Loutzenhiser said. "Then we begin to bag it locally. We weigh it up by hand, and we seal it, and we've got labels that we've ordered, and we put the labels on it by hand. So, it's a process."

In many ways, Jim Bean Coffee is a family affair. Loutzenhiser says his four sons are involved in the business, along with his wife, and many other family members. "It gives us a chance to meet a lot of nice people. We are having fun with it," Loutzenhiser said.