Coffee on the Porch started as a passion pursuit and blossomed into a thriving business. Teacher and hobbyist roaster, Dan Dishner, spent many evening and weekend hours roasting beans. He began inviting friends and neighbors over to enjoy his freshly roasted beans and Coffee on the Porch was born. Dan continued experimenting with different roasts and the porch gatherings grew. Eventually Coffee on the Porch built a strong following and started selling to local stores and cafes. Still a full time high school teacher, Dan spends many weekday evenings filling orders. Coffee on the Porch's goal is to provide Maine with fresh roasted coffee with complex flavor profiles for everyone's own unique taste preferences.
Q & A
How did your interest in coffee begin?
Growing up, there was always coffee in the house. My Dad was a hardcore coffee drinker and I never saw him turn down a cup of coffee. I started drinking coffee in my early adult life but was never a big fan of most of the coffee I consumed. At some point, I was introduced to whole beans and I bought a grinder and started buying whole beans. At the time, 8 o’clock coffee was one of the few whole beans you could get easily.
When and why did you create your business?
I guess you could say the business was created when I started selling coffee on-line, which was in March of 2012. I had been roasting my own coffee for several years and at some point a few friends and colleagues started buying my coffee but the creation of the Coffee on The Porch Facebook page was the official start of the business. Why did I create the business? In the beginning it was simply to find enough people to buy my coffee so that I could drink coffee for free. I had no clue at the time where it would go.
What inspired the name Coffee On The Porch?
Coffee on the Porch was actually an event that started years ago with just a friend and myself. We would meet Friday mornings in the summer to sample my coffee on the porch and talk about coffee, family and life. At some point other family and friends joined us and it became a summer event that at times had over twenty people. Once I decided to start the business it only seemed fitting to call it “Coffee on the Porch”.
Which region do you import the most coffee from?
I use more beans from Brazil than any other region.
How do you come up with blends that work?
When I first started roasting coffee for myself I would roast enough coffee to last me about a week. I started buying beans from different countries, roasting them at different levels and trying them with other origins of beans. I took a lot of notes, did a lot of cupping and rated what worked well together. I still roast and sell many of those same blends today.
How long does it take to roast a batch of coffee?
I have a 5k roaster that can roast up to 12 lbs. at a time. On average it takes about 15 minutes to roast a batch of coffee.
When did you start roasting your own beans and how did you decide where to get your roasts and which varieties to get?
I started roasting my own coffee sometime in 2004-05. I was given some very dark roasted beans from a friend that he had roasted himself on his gas grill. I was already a big time coffee drinker but this was very intriguing. I started buying books and reading articles on roasting coffee. Once I got started there was no looking back. I have not purchased coffee already roasted since then.
I first started buying my “greens” locally but soon was buying online through several websites. It wasn’t long before I was bidding on greens on e-bay. Once it was decided to start the business it was time to think bigger so I invested in whole bags of greens, weighing 132 lbs or 152 lbs depending on the country. I have several different coffee brokers that I purchase from and usually have around fifteen different origins of beans in stock.
Do you work besides selling coffee? If so, what is your career?
My “real job” is teaching high school students how to build houses. I started teaching in 2000 after working in construction for over twenty years. It is a great career and I get summers off. Up until the start of the coffee roasting business I worked in the summer as a carpenter. I still do that on occasion but not very often by choice.
What’s involved in roasting a batch of coffee? Specific temperatures? Does it need to be constantly stirred? Is there anything added to it?
Most of my roasts are a combination of single origin beans. Some, such as our Six Bean Espresso, needless to say, is a combination of beans from six different countries, So the first thing that needs to be done is weigh and combine the beans for each roast. I usually do this while the roaster is warming up. Once the roaster is ready the beans are dropped into the roaster and the timer is started. Each roast has a specific time and temperature until it is ready to “drop” into the cooling bin. My roaster is a gas fired drum roaster so the beans tumble inside the drum. I can control the temperature as well as the drum rotation speed. There is a small viewing window so the beans can be monitored as well as a “Trier” which is a scoop with a wooden handle that allows you to pull out a small amount of beans and smell/observe them even better. I never add anything to my roasted coffee.
How is decaf made? Does it come from a naturally de-caffeinated bean or do you have to decaffeinate it?
The decaffeinated beans we use are already decaffeinated when we buy them. There are several ways to do this but we use “natural water process” beans. Simply put, the greens are soaked in warm water, which removes the caffeine and taste. Once this has been done the caffeine is removed and the beans are reintroduced to the water where the natural flavor is restored.
What’s your favorite way to brew coffee and why?
If I am not in a hurry, my favorite cup of coffee is doing a pour-over. To me, this is the best way to experience the best of a roast. That being said, I love the French press. I use it for most of my coffee brews. I have a whole procedure that I do from pre-heating everything to using a timer. And a burr grinder of course. With the French press you can make more than one cup and if you have a carafe you are good for the day.
How do you take your coffee?
195 degrees and black, preferably in a nice mug.
What is your favorite food to accompany a cup of coffee?
Why should people choose Coffee on the Porch?
I like to say that we love the coffee snobs. One of the first things I ask people when they are thinking of buying our coffee is if they have a coffee grinder. If they say yes, a burr grinder, then we know they are probably someone who takes a good cup of coffee very serious. We like to only sell whole bean, even though we grind upon request, we roast very small batches and we don’t sell our coffee if it is more than three weeks old. Most of the coffee we sell is only a few days out of the roaster. That is the biggest difference from what is bought off the shelf in a can or in a bin, fresh roasted. Once you have a cup of coffee only a few days out of the roaster you will be hard pressed to be satisfied with anything else of less quality. As they say, Life is too short to drink bad coffee. (Not my quote)