What starts out as a small, hard fruit on a tree in South America, or maybe Africa, or Turkey, or Asia, undergoes a startling transformation as it is plucked from its branch, stripped of its skin and shipped around the world to coffee-lovers everywhere.
The origin of the coffee bean has a lot to do with the quality of the hot, black, end result, but where it is roasted is just as much a part of a coffee's identity. There are few who understand the marriage of "place of origin" and "place of roasting" better than Nancy Hoyer, lead roaster at (the appropriately-named) Taos Roasters.
Hoyer joined the team in 2008 and quickly grew accustomed to the modest warehouse on Gusdorf Road where Taos Roasters has roasted coffee beans since 1996. Originally from a food service background - and the original baker at The Bean coffee shop, a previous company owned by Taos Roasters owner Peter Micelli - Hoyer said she is passionate about coffee and the art of roasting.
"I love the aromas. The flavor. It's something that changes every day," she said. "All of the different flavors from across the world, and they are always changing; it's very therapeutic."
Moving from baking to roasting was not without its challenges for Hoyer, but she has taken the time to learn her craft.
Bev Berger, Micelli's partner and wife, says Hoyer has developed the uncanny ability to tell when coffee beans are roasted to perfection just by listening to the crackle.
On top of being the lead roaster for Taos Roasters, Hoyer also delivers the coffee to stores every week and manages the online sales.
She's far from alone in this endeavour. Hoyer is coached and mentored by Micelli, who has taught her the art of roasting.
"He is a mad scientist," Hoyer said. "He is just always trying new things and he has taught me for decades. There is a lot of heart and soul in the coffee and that starts with him."
Among other trade secrets, Micelli taught Hoyer about the importance of finding the right bean to marry to the unique roasting elements offered by Taos.
"We are certified organic, so we know that the beans arrive clean," said Hoyer. "But roasting [in Taos] is like baking at high altitude. It has some different methods. Like, we can use a little more heat and we have to be able to adapt."
Hoyer said the benefit of working for Taos Roasters is that, because they are a small batch roaster, she has room to experiment. "I can always find exactly what the customer wants," she said.
For more information, or to order your own bag of Taos Roasters coffee, go to taosroasters.com.