Indianapolis, like most Midwestern cities, is modest but proud. Proud of its history, its speedway, Peyton Manning. I think the same could be said about the city’s coffee community, especially the roasters. None of Indy’s roasters are nationally known, but they don’t need to be. They’re content to roll up their shirtsleeves, put their hands to the plow, and get to work. A growing part of the Indy roasting scene is husband and wife duo Andy and Sarah Hassler, who roast coffee out of their garage under the name of Blue Mind Roasting. I know Andy through a mutual friend (and occasional Coffee Compass contributor), and have been watching their business grow from a distance these last few years. I caught up with Andy over email to hear about their recent expansion.
I think a lot of people dream of roasting coffee in their garage, but you’re actually doing it. What inspired you to start Blue Mind?
Well, interestingly, it was never really a dream of mine. I kind of stumbled into coffee roasting. I always loved drinking it and learning about it, but I never thought I’d be roasting it, let alone roasting it for a living. But after trying it as a hobby, I was hooked. And when other career plans seemed to be taking a turn, it felt like the right time to take a leap of faith and start the business.
What inspired us to do it from home is that Sarah and I both love our neighborhood and the property on which we live. We have three kids, and we live in a neighborhood in Indy that has a small-town feel, with mature trees, and love for all things local, so it just made sense to us. We also have backyard chickens, gardens, and a space behind our house that is really a place of peace and respite for us. I do some online teaching, too, so making the business work from home has helped us create a more holistic, reasonably paced life that works against some of the frenzy of the modern world.
Does your name have any significance?
Our name has a lot of significance. It could be a banner over our whole life, really. It comes from a song by Alexi Murdoch and speaks to the idea of slowing down, reflecting, and getting lost in your “blue mind.” This fits me, personally, but it also fits our experience of great coffee, which allows you to transcend the everyday rush of life and get lost for a few minutes in something special. We felt the name and idea also went well with the third-wave coffee movement in general, which has been a more thoughtful approach to coffee. One where we pay more attention to detail, and thereby produce something that, while slower, in the end is more beautiful, deep, and lasting.
You just upgraded your roasting capacity from 2.5 kg. to 12. Was it scary to take that leap as a business? Or was it long overdue?
The answer to both questions is yes. We wish we would have started with this size, but, honestly, when we began we were not sure it would work, so we were being cautious. Still, though, large transitions are always scary. This will allow us some more freedom with the business and life in general, so we are very excited about that. But there are still some kinks to be worked out, as there always are with this kind of thing. But we are definitely hopeful for the future.
What coffee have you especially been enjoying lately?
It’s funny, when I roasted as a hobby I got the most interesting coffee I could afford. Kenyas or washed Ethiopias were some of my favorites. As a business owner, what I enjoy is not always what sells the best, and we try to meet people where they are. So we are sparing with more exotic-tasting coffees. We do almost always have a naturally processed Ethiopia on hand, which people seem to enjoy (also a favorite of Sarah’s). Right now, as well, we have a nice Guatemalan coffee, from Candelaria in the Huehuetenango region, which I’ve been quite fond of, with notes of apple, caramel, and chocolate.
Where are some of the places we can drink your coffee?
In Indianapolis, our coffee is brewed at Monon Coffee in Broad Ripple, Artie’s on Central, and the Greenfield Grind in Greenfield. And if you happen to be in Champaign, Illinois, you can also find us at Hopscotch Bakery and Market.
We also sell a lot of bags wholesale to local markets and shops, including Wildwood Market in Fountain Square, Homespun on Mass Ave, Goose the Market, Safeway in Meridian-Kessler, and Joe’s Butcher Shop in Carmel, to name a few. A full listing can be found on our website, bluemindroasting.com
Photos by Aaron Oneal.