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‘Historically bold’ roast Danville business puts local spin on coffee

A coffee-roasting company based in Danville has recently ventured into producing blended roasts, one of which embraces the recently developed tourism slogan for the area, “Historically Bold.”

Dry Stack Coffee was started by Leigh and Aaron Ranson. Aaron Ranson said he has enjoyed coffee for as long as he can remember, and claims nothing suits him more than a great cup of coffee and a good conversation.

“I am a lifelong lover of coffee. I love tasting unique coffees from all over the world. I started roasting coffee because I found it so difficult and expensive to get my hands on high quality-freshly roasted coffee,” he said. “When my family moved to Danville several years ago, it was even more difficult. I also began roasting because I have a desire to learn and was fascinated by the coffee roasting process.

We started roasting commercially in early 2015.”

But before the coffee came the name. Ranson said that choosing a name was a very difficult process. He noted the importance in choosing something that was unique and paid homage to Kentucky. The final name of the company, Dry Stack Coffee, comes from the stone-stacking method used to create Kentucky’s limestone fences.

Ranson said the name isn’t the only thing that makes Dry Stack Coffee unique. Traditionally, coffee is roasted in a drum roaster. Dry Stack Coffee is unique in their usage of fluid bed roasting technology. In fluid bed roasting, the coffee is suspended in a bed of hot air.

Ranson said the benefit of this process as opposed to traditional drum roasting is that fluid bed roasting delivers a smoother, brighter flavor profile.

“Coffee roasting is equal parts art and science. The art is in the hands of the roaster creating the best roast profile for each unique coffee. There is a lot of chemistry involved in coffee roasting. The science is harnessing technology to manage repeatable roasts to create consistency in the cup,” said Ranson. “I want to unleash the potential of every coffee I roast.  My philosophy of roasting is summed up in this; I want my customers to taste the coffee, not the roast.”

Ranson said Dry Stack Coffee roasts in small batches because his company is “obsessed with quality.” He added that roasting in smaller batches allows for better management and monitoring to guarantee that the coffee meets high standards.

Ranson says that being a small, quality obsessed company provides an advantage over larger roasters because it provides an opportunity to be selective about which coffees are bought and offered.

“Ethically grown and sourced coffee is also a core belief we have,” Ranson says. “Every importer we buy from has on-the-ground operations in the countries we buy from. These on-the-ground operations guarantee ethical wages are paid and that no slave or child labor is allowed.”

Until a few months ago, all of Dry Stack Coffee’s offerings were what is known in the coffee industry as “single origin.” This phrase means that the coffee is from one country or origin. Many of the offerings that Dry Stack Coffee has are single-origin “micro lots,” meaning that a coffee batch is grown on a single farm.

Earlier this year, Dry Stack Coffee released their first blends. Blends are coffees that are composed of two or more different origins. Ranson said there is a lot of cupping (the process of tasting) that goes into creating a high quality blend. His company released two blends this year — a lighter roast blend called “Kentucky Wonder” and a darker roast blend called “Historically Bold.”

Another new endeavor Dry Stack Coffee has ventured into is partnerships. The coffee company’s recent partnership with Plank on Main has been met with rave reviews, according to Plank owner Wendy White.

“People really like it. We sell a lot. We sell it by the cup, we sell it cold, we sell it in our bulletproof mocha, and then a mixture of grounds and whole beans that people can buy here,” she said. “Usually what happens is we get people who have met him at the farmers market and will come buy it during the week, or they’ve had our coffee here and they want to take some home to their friends.”

White says Ranson has made every attempt to tailor the partnership to suit her business.

“He’s actually crafted a specific blend for us because we were looking for organic beans. Aaron made us a special organic blend that can only be found here,” she said.

Ranson said Dry Stack Coffee is a 100-percent family owned and operated business.

“Our family is involved, which makes it so much fun for me. My wife helps with all facets of the business. My twin 8-year-old daughters help with bagging, grinding and sales at the Boyle County Farmers Market, and my 3-year-old son is chief creative officer and lead coffee taster,” Ranson said.