Heir to the Espresso Bar

Sometimes children follow in their father’s or mother’s footsteps, but in Jake’s case, he’s following in his Uncle Ben’s footsteps. (Especially since his father stepped away and disappeared from the family business 4 years ago. We still can’t locate him.) Jake might not have been blessed with his Uncle’s name at birth like his older brother was, but he is the nephew that flies up from San Diego to spend a couple of Summer weeks with his Uncle Ben just so he can learn the family business—Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company. 

At just 14 years old and entering his freshman year of High School in 1 month, while his friends are hanging out being teenagers (God help us all), Jake is choosing to further his resume, knowledge, skills, and bank balance. An added bonus? Spending free time with old friends and Uncle Ben in Napa Valley. 

Jake instructing Doug how to sweep. 

Jake instructing Doug how to sweep. 

Last Summer Jake learned how to roast beans, and this Summer he naturally took to the espresso bar. Easiest drink to make? A latte. Favorite drink to make? The Shakerato. I highly recommend ordering both and enjoying them. When he’s not making drinks, he’s cleaning, roasting beans with Uncle Ben, telling Doug at the Napa store what to do, and taking care of customers immediately when they walk through the door. He’s a natural, but it seems to run in the family. 

What is it about the family business that interests Jake? He loves how everything works. When he was younger he use to come to work with his Dad. He enjoyed watching the interaction of the employees with the customers, the making of the drinks, etc., and that stemmed a fascination for the business which has been brewing since the beginning. 

When Jake returns home to San Diego he’s looking forward to starting high school, playing water polo and lacrosse for the school, and spending time with friends. He’s hoping to make the varsity lacrosse team this year so he and his brother Ben can play one more season together before Ben graduates. 

Cheers to you Jake, and all of your future endeavors. We look forward to seeing you at the NVCRC locations in the future! 

Pennies for the Future

I am the person who will stop the flow of foot, bicycle, and vehicular traffic on a dime just to stoop down to pick up a penny off the ground. Why? Because of this guy...


Pennies add up, and they will hopefully pay for at least one of his textbooks in college…I hope.

As much as we dream that his smarts and hard work will earn him scholarships to college, and eventually land him a great job he’ll love, we know that we’ll still be needing a lot of money to cover the cost of his college education. Let’s face it. If the price of coffee continues to rise, you can bet the price of education will continue to rise as well.

Besides picking coins up off the street, I set the rule in our family (WHEN WE STARTED THE PROCESS OF GETTING PREGNANT) that any coins and $1 bills that land in our possession get thrown in a jar. When the money reaches the top, we roll the coins, stack the bills, and make a deposit into his savings account. Any checks he is given for the holidays and his birthdays are also deposited into his savings account, and when that amount reaches $1,000, I withdraw a few hundred dollars and make a deposit into his custodial account to invest in stocks.

I actually have a plan.

Another step I know we need to take is to open a 529 Plan to save money for his college education. The beauty of the 529 Plan is that the growth and withdrawn funds are not taxed by the federal government as long as they are used to pay for qualifying college expenses. Brilliant!

I started researching 529 plans online and immediately grew frustrated. Luckily, the daunting task of finding the best plan for our family was quickly minimized when I found that Reviews.com (https://www.reviews.com) had already done the research not just for me, but for you as well. They provide a beautiful and easy-to-grasp Cliffs Notes version of the various 529 Plans, they do all of the leg-work metrics for determining which are the top plans to invest in, and THEY ALSO EXPLAIN WHY. It was a godsend.

Probably the best advice I received while reading through their info (https://www.reviews.com/529-plans/) is that it is absolutely important to save money for our son’s college education early, but it’s imperative that we are able to contribute monthly to our retirement, and have paid off our own debt, before doing so. The simple explanation for this is that, “while students can borrow to pay for college, you can’t borrow to pay for retirement (https://www.nysaves.org/home/college-savings-articles/content-secondary-co10/caution-parents.html).”

That stuck with me. I needed to read that. The info they provided, when printed, is 38-pages. I read that great advice on page 15…which is when I stopped reading and checked on my credit card balances. Damn. I have some work to do. It’s also helpful that reviews.com updates their info (https://www.reviews.com/about/), so I confidently know that when we have paid off our credit card debt, I can return to their website and find out what the best researched 529 Plan is and why.

For now, the coins and $1 bills will have to do for his college savings fund. Even a small amount of money saved will help in the long-run. 

Team RoCo Blend Program

There’s a Napa Team RoCo Staff. Did you know that? RoCo is short for Roasting Company, and let’s face it…it just rolls off the tongue so easily. Team RoCo strives to include all employees in every step the beans go through once they have been roasted in the Saint Helena shop. Besides selling beans, brewing coffee, and making the drinks, employees are also encouraged to partake in the employee contribution blend program, which is available to all staff members upon finishing their 90-day training period upon hiring.

The Team RoCo blend program is an opportunity for each employee to create their own blend of coffee beans that will then be sold online and in the stores. Employees aren’t just given the bean varietals and allowed to go hog wild. Over time the employee brews and tastes each varietal to learn the various sense profiles, then starts to mix varietals in different percentages, eventually creating a blend of coffee that they enjoy, and believe customers would enjoy as well. Each single varietal coffee offers a unique flavor, and mixing the varietals – blending - offers our senses a new experience each time we brew a cup at home, work, when we travel, camp,…I could go on, but I won’t. This is a great way to help the employee’s knowledge of the varietals, and therefore their overall knowledge of the coffee world.

When the employee is happy with the blend, they come up with three name choices, and present their project to management for tasting. Approval of one of their blend’s names (after Doug has completed a grueling background check and investigation using the skills he learned from the military), and confirmation that they have successfully produced a tasty coffee blend that others will enjoy is a nice accomplishment, and one to be proud of. Their hard work is furthering the success of Team RoCo. 

Teamwork is nice, but the other perk to creating your own coffee blend is cold hard cash. For each bag of their blend sold to customers, the employee can earn up to 10% of the sales. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!...or tofu! You can always have tofu. To help the employees increase their income, and to offer them another outlet for sharing their creative blend, I will be conducting interviews with the employees who have their own blends. We hope you enjoy the interviews over the next few months, and don’t hesitate to ask any employee for more information on any of the blends that NVCRC offers! Check out their blends for sale online: https://napavalleycoffee.com/fresh-roasted-coffee


Two Weeks

I don’t know about you, but the past two weeks dealing with the evacuation due to the wild fires, the constricting future-diagnosis-lung-cancer-causing air quality aftermath, and entertaining a toddler indoors for that length of time, pushed us to our limits. Yes, it was an unexpected blessing spending extra time together as a family. There were a lot of laughs, a shit-ton of caloric expenditure activities (chasing our son through every nook and cranny of the house, setting up an indoor tumble, tackle, and tickle area (I’m going to trademark that now that I just re-read that last sentence), playing ball, loading the dishwasher...unloading the dishwasher...loading the dishwasher...unloading the dishwasher...you get the picture), and creating additional, albeit inappropriate, verses to “The Wheels on the Bus” song...the drug dealers on the bus go $5 dime bags, $5 dime bags, $5 dime bags...

Extremely memorable for us, and hopefully he’ll have no recollection of the chaos surrounding our lives outside of the walls we were safely in.


Le Petit Elephant (LPE) re-opening it’s doors yesterday once there was a green flag air quality day, thus giving the school district the green light for the schools to open their doors to safely accept children, was a godsend. I don’t use godsend lightly as an agnostic. In my opinion, childcare is as much an aid to our family life as the emergency responders, volunteers, kind-hearted strangers, and neighbors were to everyone while we were all responding to the wild fires. We all witnessed a lot of godsends these past two weeks, just as we will witness more in the coming year as thousands rebuild and find a new normal, and those of us lucky enough to be spared the tragedy of losing our homes and/or jobs return to life.

LPE opened at 7:30AM yesterday, and I expected to see at least six families trying to cram through the entranceway at 7:30AM on the dot. I’m guessing that still happened, but we didn’t arrive until 7:42AM. When my wife pulled into the parking lot our son had already unbuckled his car seat. He then proceeded to climb out of the window and leap from the car, heading to the front door before she had even parked the car. He entered his classroom AT A RUN, his friends and him greeting each other with excited babbling, hugs, and the occasional word we parents understood. The smile on his face being reunited with his friends was a great way to start the week as we all return to our lives.

It is my understanding that everyone in the LPE family is safe, and this is a huge relief. If anyone needs anything, please let us know, and we’ll do our best to help you in anyway that we can.

No, that is not how my hair usually looks. I swear, it was a windy day.  

No, that is not how my hair usually looks. I swear, it was a windy day.  

Bean Sources

Coffee beans are actually coffee seeds from a coffee cherry. This makes them a member of the stone fruit family. The pit inside the coffee cherry of the coffee plant is one of the world’s most consumed beverages, and a major cash crop and export product, with the U.S. being the leading consumer. After learning this, I slapped myself on the forehead, said “duh,” and I have decided to purchase land in South America so I can grow ACRES of coffee plants. Maybe then we’ll be able to afford to send our son to college in 18 years.  

When the coffee cherries are ripe, they are often handpicked using a selective picking method. That is, only the ripe fruit is removed. On average, one coffee tree produces one pound of green beans. In most cases, the tree must be harvested multiple times because the cherries ripen at different moments, creating an extremely labor intensive environment, and a fine game of hide-n-seek. The cherries are then processed either the “wet” method, or the “dry” method, and you end up with green coffee beans that are processed and ready for roasting. That one pound of harvested green beans loses weight when roasted. It’s as if the bean is being put through a Bikram yoga session at Napa Hot Yoga (https://napahotyoga.com). Once in the roaster/Bikram studio, the bean loses water weight, and essentially one pound of roasted coffee beans yields one 12 ounce bag of roasted coffee.  

16oz of green coffee beans + coffee roaster-->12oz bag of roasted coffee 

I know it’s confusing, but trust us. If you need proof, please weigh yourself, attend a Bikram Yoga session, and re-weigh yourself afterwards. You’ll go in green, and come out…nope, gonna stop there.  


NVCRC currently sources beans from the following countries: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Brazil (decaf beans), Colombia, and Mexico. Actually, the coffee beans are exported from these countries to Royal Coffee, a Coffee Bean Importer (https://royalcoffee.com), and then Ben goes and picks up the green beans from the Royal warehouse in Oakland to bring back and roast at the Saint Helena location. Although I know it’s not true, in my mind, Royal Coffee is a cover for a Bean Counter (ha ha), a Russian man who resides on a boat in the harbor, secretly selling green coffee beans. In order to purchase the beans, Ben has to offer free legal advice, 44 packs of spearmint gum, and two bottles of vodka. Before Charlie disappeared, he used to go and pick up the green coffee beans. The rumor is that one day he showed up with only 43 packs of gum, and since then, Charlie has been MIA.  

Back to the countries we source our green beans from. I am truly interested in the different methods of each country: whether the plans are Arabica or Robusta (we only purchase Arabica beans), if they use the “wet” or “dry” method, if Charlie is currently living on one of those coffee farms and that’s why he’s not here, etc., so I decided to schedule a trip to the different countries listed above.  

I opened up Google Maps on my iPhone, and knowing that Mexico would be the first stop, I plugged in the destination. Hmmm…it’ll take me 1 day, 6 hours to drive. Thanks Google Maps!  



Now, Mexico to Guatemala…Google Maps says it’s a 1-day drive. Sweet!  


Guatemala to Colombia is the next leg of the trip. Google Maps says…nothing. What the hell?!?! I’m looking at the map, and it totally looks like I could even run the leg of this trip, yet Google Maps can’t fathom how I am to get there? Fine! A flight from Guatemala to Bogota, Colombia is…3 hours, 15 minutes. Piece of cake. Done. 


Alrighty, now to get from Bogota to São Paulo, Brazil…Google Maps failed me again, so it looks like I’ll be flying…37 hours?!?! Screw it! We’re only sourcing decaf coffee beans from Brazil, so we’ll forgo that trip.   




Bogota to Ethiopia…I know I have to fly. Holy shit…62 hours, 30 minutes. I’m starting to think this trip is going to take too long. We might not ever find Charlie. Then, Ethiopia to Indonesia…44 hours, 30 minutes; then Indonesia to Papua New Guinea…36 hours, 30 minutes; and then I need to get from Papua New Guinea all the way back to SFO…69 hours.  



Sorry Charlie. I’m just going to trust that you’re in a good place, and that we might never see you again, especially if you’re stuck in Papua New Guinea.  

Google Maps—you suck. To you, there are no countries besides North America. I highly recommend expanding your horizons. 

Customers of NVCRC, I am terribly sorry I am unable to tell you firsthand what the coffee farms are like that we source our green beans from. We will just need to trust that Ben and Doug have a good relationship with the Russian Bean Counter at Royal Coffee. Given how tasty the coffee is after it’s been roasted and brewed, I think we have some of the best beans. You might even say, the greenest beans, given the major cash crop that it is! 


Cold Brew v Iced Coffee

August 23, 2017

If you don’t know the difference between cold brew and iced coffee, it’s actually worth knowing purely given the time difference between the two brews. It’s like the time you put into your firstborn versus your second…third…and fourth child. The iced coffee is just like your middle child—you forget to check the notes from school on how he is doing; you fail to purchase the same amount of clothes, toys, books, and blankets for her because you reused the firstborn’s regardless of the stains and holes; you feel that perhaps those math and science flash cards you purchased for your firstborn are not necessary for your other children; you might forget to pick up your middle child from soccer practice and you feel horrible, but you didn’t schedule yourself a therapy session like you did when you forgot to pick your firstborn up from daycare one day; and my favorite yet: you might have saved money for your firstborn’s college tuition, but you saved $0 for your second and third children. And your fourth child? He will be sent to live in a Buddhist temple to become a monk. That costs nothing, right?

Now that I sound like an asshole from making my point, let me explain the different processes between the cold brew and the iced coffee.

Cold brew is your first born: 18 hours of French Roast coarse ground coffee, comfortably immersed in water in a special brewing container, with a secret amount of chicory that we would never reveal to you unless you twist Doug’s arm after a few shots of tequila (don’t be a jerk, Charlie!). After the brewing process, we filter the concentrate, add more water and pour over ice when serving. You may add cream and sugar, or enjoy it black. Because no heat is used to brew this coffee, less acid comes through, and therefore you have an increase in natural sweetness. The addition of roasted chicory root (purely by choice and no longer due to the need to stretch the coffee), does not add caffeine, but it does help to increase the sweetness, and counter the bitterness, adding a nutty, dried-fruit finish to your already excellent brew. Do we have your taste buds’ attention yet?

Iced Coffee? AKA, the second, third and fourth children? That’s our traditional brewed hot coffee that we try to chill quickly by pouring it over ice and serving it to you. Another tasty coffee drink, but the brewing and chilling processes are as different as a first born and all the other kiddos that follow.

Both drinks can be enjoyed at NVCRC, but the cold brew is first-come, first-served due to the brewing length. Doug can only enjoy so many beers and still function while the coffee brews for 18 hours.

A nice cold brew with a bit of half-n-half. 

A nice cold brew with a bit of half-n-half. 

Dearest Bagel...

Dear Ex-NVCRC Bagels,


I miss you, and crave your carbohydrate-filled squeeze on my love-handles. It has been a few months since you and I have spoken. It is my understanding that you had no choice in your banishment from the NVCRC shops. Apparently, your maker, had fallen to the wayside in the world of acceptable bagels. I know you want to still be with us, and I with you, but for now, until we are able to locate another new and local bagel maker, you are temporarily replaced by itsy-bity English muffins. They are tasty in their own right, but definitely not you. We just miss the cream cheese falling out of your sides as we take a bite…or your diverse seasoning sprinkles left behind in our wake, revealing our whereabouts. English muffins are just…well…English. They are Brexit muffins. There. I said it.

Until we meet again over NVCRC coffee (or tea) in one of the coffee shops, I wish you the best of luck. Perhaps you can refer a local baker to us so we can be reunited? Perhaps that baker also makes Bialys?--Your cousin bagel without the hole? We would love to serve you again!!


The Stomach of an NVCRC Patron

A Waggish Pitch for Spent Grounds

Fresh ground coffee from NVCRC, an inverted mountain of potential as it lies in the cone to be washed over with scalding water to create black magic that lures us from the supine depths of dreams towards upright serene apricity. Upon completion of its primary purpose, the dumped frowzy pile of grounds lies unknowingly by the visitor’s feet as the continued pull from the urn fills mugs. From acidity to a neutral pH, a new step in its life. Gardeners are pulled in for a warm-up, and a pail is hauled to their composts, a spent black “green” matter added to the “brown” matter for the worms to digest and cast aside to be used to aide plant life. A 360 degree return...



Ah screw it… 

What we’re trying to say here is, at the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company (NVCRC), if you bring in an empty 5-gallon bucket at the start of the day to either of our locations, we will fill it with used coffee grounds that you can walk away with at the end of the night. This is a free composting material for you, which is good for our earth! It’s a way to add nutrients to your soil, your compost pile, your worm bin, etc., and it helps us decrease what goes into our garbage. It’s a win-win!! 

So please! Bring in your buckets. Help us compost these used coffee grounds that will, in return, help YOUR garden grow! And, just to show how much we’re on your side with this, we offer a free small cup of coffee to anyone who brings in a 5-gallon bucket for used coffee grounds AND picks it up at the end of the day to take home. Until you bring in your bucket, check out the pic of Doug holding a bucket half-filled with used coffee grounds.


If you don’t have a worm composting bin at home, and you are interested in starting one, I highly recommend contacting Debbie at Worm Endings Unlimited in Napa for all your worm needs (http://www.wormendingsunlimited.com). Or talk to her in-person at the Napa Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings! 

Cheers to New Beginnings!

We, the Napa Valley Roasting Co., have started this blog in order to connect with you, and to offer you a bit of stories and info from us now and then. Just like you, we are members of this community. Each of us are striving to reach milestones, and the journeys and accomplishments are often communicated with a friend, or a loved one, over a nice, fresh cup of coffee (or a cold beer at the end of the day in the local bar). 2017 is bringing some pretty significant changes for us!

So…(drum roll please)…first bit of important info! We are under new ownership! Timeline: Leon Sange & Denise Toohey co-founded Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Co. in November 1985; Nancy and Brouck Haynes bought out Denise in December 2004; and, Charlie & Ben Sange, the sons of Leon Sange, bought out the Haynes  in December 2016. Did you catch all of that? I hope so! You can explain it to me later. Doug Dunlap is also back in the flesh folks! He is the glue that keeps the espresso machines in both locations going.

We have launched a new website after consuming loads of our own brew in order to accomplish this task. With that new website comes an online store to purchase beans, this blog to keep you updated and hopefully entertained, a presence on a few social media sites (we have hired an 11 year-old for this task that we pay with bags of decaf beans), and a promise that, as we’ve been doing since 1985, we’re here to help you stay happy and caffeinated while you work, walk, wake up, hang out, drive down the road, etc. Join our mailing list, bookmark our sites, and stay tuned for info, stores, blurbs, pics, and videos!

Just a few FYIs:

  • If we make any mistakes, Charlie did it. He lives in SoCal, so he’s the one to take the fall for EVERYTHING.

  • Not only do we serve you coffee, tea, water, donuts, bagels, etc., we also donate to causes we feel are important. Our newest project is TheWalk2EndAlz Roast. A medium-bodied Columbian coffee with rich flavors and mildly acidic characteristics combined with the dark and sweet Italian espresso roast. This coffee offers you an unforgettable milk chocolate and nutty brew. We send a portion of the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association. Those funds are used to provide the financial support that is needed in order to expand and enrich the LOCAL services in Napa County by increasing public awareness, research towards treatment, prevention, and ultimately, a cure. If you would like to help, BUY THE COFFEE! Or you can form a team, raise money, and walk in the Napa Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s. We strongly recommend drinking our coffee while walking to end Alzheimer’s disease. Please check out the link: http://act.alz.org. It would be an unforgettable experience, and just think of how happy your body and spirit would be with that many steps and camaraderie!

Please excuse the crinkled bag. Our 1 year-old decided to play with it when my back was turned for 22 seconds.

Please excuse the crinkled bag. Our 1 year-old decided to play with it when my back was turned for 22 seconds.

  • Want to bring your best furry friend with you to enjoy some coffee? Of course you do! We offer water bowls outside each of our stores, and even though we only have outdoor seating available at our Saint Helena location, there are plenty of meditative locations to hang at close to our Napa location after you make your purchase. Our locations:

    • Saint Helena: 1400 Oak Ave., directly across from Adams Street Shipping (https://www.adamsstreetshipping.com). Stop in for a coffee after shipping your packages as a reward for accomplishing a task!

    • Napa: 948 Main St., caddy-corner to ★bucks (we were there first, and we don’t think you need their website. ☺) 


Come visit, drink our coffee and tea drinks, and hang out!



P.S. Please note that all blurbs, blog posts, etc., are to be read lightly, knowing that often we’re just trying to help you get a few more laughs in for the day. If we have offended you at all, we apologize in advance, and keep in mind that it was all Charlie’s fault.  



Source: http://www.napavalleycoffee.com