When Tim Unruh isn’t on the job landscaping around Tabor College’s campus or in his kitchen baking cinnamon rolls for a Marion County, Kansas, clientele, he is with his coffee roaster, roasting another batch of Menno Beans coffee. Tim and his wife, Alissa, and their three boys spend their Saturdays selling bags of Menno Beans and assorted drinks at Rhubarb Market Coffeehouse and Roasters in downtown Hillsboro, Kansas. Hillsboro MB Church is their church home.
How did you get started roasting coffee?
My son really loves the smell of coffee, so when he had an opportunity to create a business for his high school entrepreneurship class he chose coffee roasting. He was hoping to do the business at school, but regulations prevented him from using a hot roaster in the classroom, so he and I purchased a small one-pound roaster and began roasting at home.
So, it grew beyond a little school project?
Yes, I would roast a pound at a time in our little roaster and give beans to friends and family to try. People just loved it, and pretty soon I was roasting every evening after work and it became clear that the little roaster wasn’t going to keep up with demand.
Where do you get your beans for roasting?
I wanted to be somewhat selective in where the beans came from. Suppliers needed to assure me that growers were being treated fairly, not just selling their product as a commodity to get the most profit for themselves. I narrowed it down to three vendors who are very conscientious about the production of the beans. Our beans come from 10 different countries. At any one time I probably roast from six or eight locations.
What makes your coffee different from a typical grocery store purchase?
I carefully roast my coffee in small batches to ensure the best product. Bringing the beans to a medium roast naturally brings out all the unique flavors in coffee from different locations. My local clientele enjoys the wide range of flavor that coffee offers from around the globe.
Why do you call it Menno Beans and put Menno Simons’ picture on the bag?
I wanted it to be a conversation-starter. I am proud of my Mennonite ancestry, and our coffee can be a tool for us to talk about our faith. Everything we have belongs to God and we want to share what God has given to us with others.