“We have always tried to do things differently and do it our own way…and now the benefit of our machines is that we can generate more electricity than we use in our roasting process” – Solar Roast Coffee co-owner and roaster Mike Hartkop
By Colorado Coffee Zine
Solar Roast Coffee in Pueblo, CO recently made headlines for celebrating two milestones, its 10th year in business and being named a Colorado Companies To Watch (CCTW) award recipient for 2017. The CCTW team considers more than 500 businesses headquartered across the state, selecting only 50 for the award. Coinciding with the roaster’s 10 year anniversary and the prestigious CCTW award, the City and County of its home base Pueblo declared August 5th “Solar Roast Coffee Day.”
“Its always been our hope to be a community center and to really support the community that supported us,” said co-owner and roaster Mike Hartkop during the celebration on August 5th.
Solar Roast Coffee arrived in southern Colorado about a decade ago after a few years of experimenting with solar powered roasting back home in Oregon. Building roasters out of unconventional materials was a project he shared with his brother, co-owner David Hartkop, while they both held full-time jobs. When their roaster’s demand for solar power began to exceed its supply of sunshine in the rainy climate of Oregon, the team decided that the business would need to relocate.
“Pueblo wasn’t on a map anywhere, but I saw a Time magazine study on the sunniest places in the country. And there was this little blip of solar radiation that came into southern Colorado” said Mike about finding Pueblo, a Colorado town famed for its small population and desert qualities.
Eventually, the team moved to Pueblo and laid claim to an empty storefront along the historic Main Street. The experiments continued and the roaster steadily evolved from early editions that could only produce 1lb batches to higher capacity roasters with more sustainable capabilities. Over the course of its decade in Pueblo, Solar Roast Coffee attained its dream of a sustainable business model with limited outsourcing by occupying an entire building. The cafe, full kitchen, and wholesale operations of roasting and packaging all happen on the same block and under the same roof. Not to be excluded, the roof is covered with solar panels that capture the energy that keeps this well oiled machine in business.
“You can get on Google and look at it… just rows and rows of solar panels. And it also serves to offset a lot of electrical requirements for our coffeehouse in downtown Pueblo… We have always tried to do things differently and do it our own way…and now the benefit of our machines is that we can generate more electricity than we use in our roasting process” said Mike about the impact of the solar panels on business operations.
The innovative process used to accomplish sustainability is one of the things that earned Solar Roast Coffee a Colorado Businesses To Watch 2017 award. With Solar Roast Coffee in grocery stores across 48 states, a prestigious award, and a new holiday declared after it, Mike Hartkop says there is plenty more to come in the year ahead and invites you to Pueblo to try their top seller, black coffee.