Brad Pietzyk's coffee roasting career began after a doctor told him he couldn't drink the beverage anymore because he was experiencing very severe acid reflux.
By RIMSIE MCCONIGA
Brad Pietzyk's coffee roasting career began after a doctor told him he couldn’t drink the beverage anymore because he was experiencing very severe acid reflux.
After doctor/patient negotiations, Brad and his physician agreed that a single cup of coffee per day would be acceptable. “I wanted that cup to be the best I could have, so I started to roast my own beans in a Whirly-Pop popcorn popper on the side of my grill,” says Brad. “I was turning out such a great product that my neighbors and family started asking for it. It seemed natural to upgrade my equipment and begin roasting as a business.”
Now he is selling his gourmet coffee - bags, pour-over hot coffee and iced coffee - at the Leavenworth Farmers Market on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.
Brad is a disabled veteran who served as an active duty officer in the Army as an engineer for 14 years before he was medically retired. Now he works as a government contractor and dreams of taking his coffee business full-time.
His choice of the name for his product is Anxious Goat Coffee Roasters, which, Brad says is the name of his personal hero, the discoverer of coffee.
Folklore says that in the ninth century in Ethiopia a farmer noticed his goats acting excited and dancing after eating red berries off a bush. Concerned, the farmer brought the berries back to the monks at a local monastery. The monks exclaimed, “these berries are of the devil!” and threw them into the fire. Soon the aromas of the beans roasting in the fire began to fill the air and the monks and the farmer began to realize that they had discovered something wonderful.
Brad’s parents didn’t allow him to try coffee when he was a kid, but one of his earliest and fondest memories when he was a child was of watching his parents splitting a pot of coffee while reading the Sunday newspaper together. “They wouldn’t turn the page until each said they were ready,” says Brad. “Pausing longer at the Dear Abby section for my mom and the sports for my father. I think that leisurely leafing through a newspaper or a magazine and enjoying a cup or two of coffee is a fantastic way to relax.”
When Brad began college in Nebraska, he began drinking coffee to stay awake and to stay alert as he studied. And after he joined the Army, like many, he became a habitual coffee drinker. “Sure, their coffee isn’t very good – but on long deployments you’ll take whatever you can get,” says Brad.
As the coffee shop scene has exploded over the last 20 years, Brad says he is old enough to remember what it used to be like and he is glad that smaller roasters are becoming more prevalent. “People are discovering that there is a lot of great coffee to be had out there, like at Meriwether’s and Harbor Lights in town,” says Brad. “When my wife and I travel we google coffee roasters in the area and stop by as many local shops as possible.”
He operates the business out of his historic Victorian home in Atchison, but his primary market is Leavenworth. “We chose the Leavenworth Farmer’s Market because we wanted to be part of a community that still has a strong military clientele with the base, especially CGSC, nearby,” says Brad. “Leavenworth already has a great coffee scene with a couple of great coffee houses downtown – I would love to see people making a morning of visiting us and the local coffee shops. Coffee tourism is a real thing and Leavenworth could be a great destination.”
The green beans for the coffee are sourced from a distributor in San Francisco. The beans come from small farms all over the world with lower volumes of production, ethical employment and superb quality.
“We have to pay a premium for this great quality and ethical beans – but they are worth every penny,” says Brad. “I try to roast as close to what I perceive demand is going to be for the market so I can assure that I am selling beans that are roasted within nine days of the market at the most. Most of the coffee I sell is roasted within two to four days. We also grind the day prior only what we believe we are going to sell and use in making pour-over coffee. Coffee starts going stale as soon as you grind it. You can be assured that ground coffee from us is as fresh as it can possibly be.”
Brad says there are a lot of great ways to brew coffee. He and his wife sell pour-overs and cold brew at the market, which are both excellent ways to get a lot of flavor out of your coffee. He says if you like a smooth cup of coffee try cold-brewing it. He makes his coffee with a French press, which leaves all of the natural oils in the coffee instead of trapping them in a paper filter. He believes this is the best way to get all of the different complex flavors you can out of your coffee.
Coffee is like wine for Brad and with so many coffee varieties in the world, he believes great coffee boils down to individual taste. And with a connoisseur’s descriptive eloquence, he describes his perfect cup of coffee as bold, with a natural sweetness and full bodied, with earthy hints of caramel, smoky undertones of cocoa and a smooth finish.
“My wife and I chose two blends that have these qualities but still stand their own ground independently of each other. A lot of customers are surprised when they sample our coffee roasts that they require less sweetener and creamer than they are accustomed to.”
One recommendation Brad offers for the best coffee is to grind your own coffee beans with a burr grinder, which pulverizes rather than chops the coffee bean. The coffee that he sells is all burr ground. “You get a lot more flavor out of your coffee bean this way,” says Brad. Second, I recommend taking your time to enjoy your coffee instead of rushing through it. I make my coffee at home with a French press but don’t drink it until I take it to my day job and can take my time and enjoy my cup(s) of coffee.”
The couple’s dream is to grow their business until the conditions are right for them to either open a coffee shop or a coffee truck in Leavenworth. But for now they are very happy to share their java at the Farmer’s Market.
“What better place than an environment where we are surrounded by other great vendors with great products for sale?” says Brad. “People come to a Farmer’s Market expecting great quality – and that’s what we deliver. We pass out free samples to as many potential customers as we can, confident that we are handing out a coffee that is superior. That’s why we say at Anxious Goat that You Deserve a Better Cup of Coffee! It’s wonderful being a part of the Leavenworth Farmer’s Market community. My wife and I have such a good time at the Market discussing our passion for coffee with other people that feel the same.
“We love coffee and sharing it with others,” says Brad.
And Brad’s severe acid reflux condition that limited his coffee consumption has a happy ending. He had surgery to correct it and now is back to drinking as much coffee as he wants.
For more information go to facebook.com/anxiousgoat and www.anxiousgoat.com for online orders.