Raven’s Brew Coffee began with single-minded enthusiasm for the world’s best coffee, to a town deeply in need of a fresh hot cup: Ketchikan, Alaska (average annual rainfall 152 inches).
The founder, Michael Beech, wanted the presentation of the coffee to be as much like the experience of the coffee as possible and teamed up with local artist extraordinaire, Ray Troll, to design a logo. Ray, in the grip of inspired madness, created a Raven rising, like a phoenix, from a steaming cup of coffee.
Armed with a black and white logo printed on stickers, a few hundred pounds of green coffee and an 8 pound (maximum load) electric fluid-bed roaster purchased from coffee roasting visionary Michael Sivetz, Raven’s Brew began roasting coffee in a friend’s garage in September of 1992. The coffee was sold to a few discriminating local retailers.
In December of that fateful year, at the height of the coffee season, an article about Raven’s Brew was published in the Ketchikan Daily News. This helped boost the sale of coffee but also brought the new operation to the attention of a local DEC official (Department of Environmental Conservation which operates as the health department in Alaska). The official paid a visit to the “roastery” and promptly issued orders to shut the operation down.
Unfortunately, the reasons for shutting down the business, while having little to do with actual health risks, had everything to do with the need for (unavailable) city services, thus precipitating a move out of the garage and into town with the additional burden of paying rent.
We were producing magic beans out of our original location in the garage: The perfume was heavenly, the profile clean and complex with great depth of flavor.
Our new (officially-sanctioned) location was an old converted bunkhouse formerly used by the fish packing industry on the outskirts of downtown Ketchikan. We were shocked to find that the coffee that was produced at this new location, while not bad, was not Raven’s Brew coffee.
It lacked the depth and complexity that we loved. The proper electrical current was simply ruining the coffee.
A crude and flamboyant contraption (no less than twice bursting into flames), affectionately referred to as the Death Trap, was created to reduce the current going to the electric roaster. Eventually, through trial and error, we were able to replicate the same awesome coffee that was produced from our first location.
The Death Trap was soon replaced by a more respectable custom-made transformer. Business grew. More space was needed and we moved to our third and current location in Ketchikan. We continued our quest to provide the most thoroughly-awesome-coffee-in-the-universe to the denizens of planet Earth (a quest which continues to this day), eventually opening a roastery in Tumwater, WA.