Faces of our Farmers: Aaron Ranson

Published 9:13 am Friday, July 24, 2020

Not everyone at the Boyle County Farmers Market on Saturdays is a farmer. Take Aaron Ranson for instance.

Ranson doesn’t grow the coffee beans he roasts for his business, Dry Stack Coffee. But he does purchase them from small family-owned and operated coffee farms from all corners of the world.

“The beans come from Columbia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Peru, Indonisia, Brazil and Tanzania,” Ranson said.

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Right now, his favorite is from Brazil, “But really, I love them all,” he said. “It’s hard to pick just one.”

Aaron Ranson, who is a pastor at Southland Christian Church, also roasts coffee as a business in his free time. (Photo by Robin Hart)

Looking at his selection of bags of roasted coffees stacked on a table at the market at Constitution Square, a bright chartreuse label on a bag of Peru Capili coffee stands out. It reads, “lemon-lime, green apple, chocolate” as its “tasting notes.”

Capeli is the region in Peru where the beans were grown, Ranson explained. “I was on the farm where it was grown. I went on a trip with eight other coffee roasts two years ago in September.”

“I tasted it and bought it right off the farm.”

Ranson works regularly with coffee importers “who all have relationships with the growers. They have operations on the ground. They know the families and cooperatives and make sure they’re paid fairly, which is a big deal in global agriculture.”

Ranson said he’s a “life-long coffee lover.” He’s not only a consumer of the brew, he also helped run a coffee shop while in college. And now he’s a self-taught coffee roaster.

When he and his family moved to Danville about five years ago, “the availability of really freshly roasted coffee was really hard to find.” So he started studying the art and science of roasting coffee beans. “It’s a very complex process.”

“I ended up on Craig’s list and found a coffee roaster and started experimenting, and people liked it. I didn’t intend to make it a business, but I kind of got pushed that way by my family and friends who I was giving it to,” Ranson said.

“And it just kind of took off.”

His “regular” job is as a pastor with Southland Christian Church, he said. He’s been on staff there for nearly 20 years.

But his sideline gig is coffee roaster.

“We turned our upstairs into a commercial food processing and manufacturing facility where he roasts between 300 and 400 pounds a week. When he’s roasting and packaging at home, “It does smell really good!”