Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or you just want a quality cup of Joe, Pammel Park Coffee has got you covered.

High quality coffee beans are now being roasted in Madison County, and are available to be ordered.

The business is owned and operated by Matt and Naomi Hupton and their family. The Huptons relocated to the area last year from Minneapolis. Matt  has enjoyed a solid career in the international coffee business for the last 20 years.

He and his wife said they wanted to raise their kids in a less urban location – which is how they wound up on a homestead on Pammel Park Road that has been in Matt’s family for several generations. The farm belonged to Matt’s grandfather, Gene Bass.

A career in coffee

After 20 years in the business, you could say coffee is in Matt’s blood. At the time that he got into the business in the late 90s, specialty coffee was growing rapidly. Matt helped the business grow from a small 3,000-square-foot warehouse with five employees to a 65,000 square foot warehouse with 45 employees in Minneapolis, not to mention the warehouses in Australia, Berlin, New York and Texas. He started traveling all over buying coffee, cupping coffee, and learning all there was to know about the product. He got a full education in “high-end” coffee.

Things moved fast over those 20 years in the coffee industry. Then last year, Matt came back to his roots to the family farm in Madison County.

“Basically this was my great-grandparents’ farm; my grandfather grew up here. They built this house back in the 40s,” Matt said.

His mother and aunt also grew up in the tiny 400-square-foot house. No one had lived in it for about 20 years. He and Naomi camped at the farm to celebrate their anniversary last year and when they woke up the next morning, Naomi suggested they move there. The couple had a house and jobs up in Minnesota, but just decided to “go for it.”

“First thing I said when we moved down here was, ‘we got to get a roaster.’ I saw there was an open market for it,” Matt said.

Once a roaster was procured, he set it up in the barn and began providing high quality coffee at an affordable price. And it wasn’t just any roaster, but the machine he had been roasting on up in Minnesota since 2002. It’s a German Probot, sort of the “BMW of coffee roasters”, according to Matt. It’s a small-batch roaster and will do up to 10 pounds, though he usually does about eight pounds at a time.

“We only really roast to order, so it doesn’t sit around. It’s always freshly roasted”.

The roasting process

During the roasting process, the coffee goes into a cast-iron drum, it rotates to allow for an even roast. A lot of new machines use stainless steel, but Matt said he prefers the coffee flavor cast iron produces. A set of belts and chains run a blower and the drum circulates and rotates the coffee beans. The machine has to reach the perfect temperature. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes for it to heat up. Then the coffee needs to roast for about 14 minutes.

While it’s roasting, you can hear it reach the “first crack”, and “second crack”, kind of like popcorn. The first crack causes the bean to shed off it’s chaff, which it does at around 380 to 390 degrees. It’s all about controlling time, temperature and airflow to get the perfect roast. Coffee roasting is part artistry, part science.

“You know when you nail it,” Matt said.

Coffee is a cherry with two seeds in it, called beans. When roasting coffee, the beans are dropped into the roaster when it’s around 400 degrees. The green coffee beans absorb all the temperature in the roaster and take the temp down to around 160 degrees.

After a bit, it starts turning around and the heat starts climbing again as the beans begin to dry. The coffee then begins to yellow and brown and develop. Once it hits around 400 degrees again, that’s when you decide how dark you’re going to take it. The most important is that the coffee roasts smoothly. At around 420 degrees, the beans are dropped after a total roasting time of around 14 minutes. Once the coffee is done, it has to “de-gas” for 24-48 hours because it’s still going through chemical changes.

According to Matt, there’s a sweet spot, between two and five days, where the coffee continues to develop. Some coffees require a slightly slower roast, while others roast quickly.

“Coffee is very, very subjective. Some want a darker roast, some want a lighter roast. Some coffees begin to taste bitter or oil up faster when roasted at higher temps,” Matt said. Coffee is tasted similar to wine in the industry. You “slurp and spit”. According to the professionals, in the process of making a coffee purchase, you would “cup” and taste around 50 different cups of Columbians, just to pick which lot you want.

Beans from all over

Pammel Park Coffee offers beans from all over, but it depends on what’s in season. For example, currently Kenyan and Columbian coffees are on the market. Later it could be Mexican or Indonesian, Peruvian or Guatemalan. They can even hunt down any specific kind of coffee someone wanted.

“There is a seasonality to it. Kenya and Columbia are my favorite, but they can also be sourced year-round because they have two crop cycles,” said Matt.

Other places such as Central America, Costa Rica and Nicaragua only have one growing season. Fresh coffee from those countries won’t be in till May or June because they just finished harvesting and they have to spend some time resting and drying.

Currently, Pammel Park Coffee has a Kenyan blend, two Columbian blends and a specialty Farmer’s Blend.

Another thing they are working on is to assist people with education, brewing ratios and equipment. They hope to start whole-selling equipment, like grinders and such.

“Half of the people we sell coffee to don’t have a grinder. We will grind coffee for clients, but only one pound at a time or it will go stale and won’t reflect the quality,” Matt said, advising customers to not buy more coffee than you can drink in a week or two.

Mainly, they said they just wanted to keep it simple and provide a good cup of coffee locally.

They deliver in Winterset. Currently, coffee is $12 per pound. Pammel Park Coffee beans are available locally at 1st Avenue Collective. The Iowa Theater also serves their coffee.

Managing Editor at the Winterset Madisonian.