Fairbanks, Alaska. Miami, Florida. These two extremes now have something in common: "A coffee shop that walks the walk instead of talking the talk," comments owner Michael Gesser of Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. (13130 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami).
Short Order discovered the place by accident when pumping gas across the street. It has been open for business just about a week and is well equipped with a Sivetz coffee roaster and a wood-burning Tuscan-imported oven for cooking pizza.
Makes you feel all warm and cozy, doesn't it?
Gesser's background of coffee culture is rooted in his New York City upbringing, where coffee shops are just a frequent as yellow taxis. "When I was 17 I ran away from home," he says matter-of-factly as his sister/operating partner Karen looks on with an approving smirk. "I traveled to Israel, Kenya, Asia, Alaska and East Africa." In those places he made long-lasting relationships with people, farmers, and their coffee.
In 1993, Gesser set up shop in Fairbanks, Alaska. That was the same year Starbucks went public. Alaska Coffee Roasting was an instant success. "This Miami store is almost an identical model to our Alaska one." There's even a patio on the side for al-fresco diners. Rugged tan coffee bags line both the inside room and the outside of the roaster's enclosure.
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Gesser gave a hands-on demonstration of how his fair-trade coffees are roasted, in the almighty Sivetz roaster, which accurately measures ideal bean temperature as it uses a fluid-bed roasting system which takes the raw green coffee beans and roasts them in nearly a third of the time as a drum machine.
Karen and Michael discard a bucket of chaff, or dry skin pieces of the bean that separates during the roasting process. They swear by their roaster, ensuring that their coffee's taste is smooth. That is, thanks to Sivetz -- and Fairbanks.