Brewing Coffee Manually

Better coffee. One cup at a time.

An Interview with Fresh Ground Roasting

When I posted my guide to buying coffee at the grocery store, I also mentioned several (better) alternatives. Getting fresh coffee from your local roaster was one of those options I championed.

“The local roaster is a great option for getting fresh coffee. It is also a great place to learn about coffee. If you have someone near you that roasts, you are lucky. Take advantage of it. Go to public cuppings, ask questions and learn about coffee directly from someone who is immersed in it daily.”-What Coffee Should I Buy at the Grocery Store?

In this post I want to talk about one of my local* roasters, Fresh Ground Roasting.

Fresh Ground Roasting

Located in Geneva Illinois, Fresh Ground is owned by Eric and Krista Andersen. This husband and wife team have built their roasting works with the goal of intentionally building relationships, both locally and globally.

The shop is located a few blocks north of Geneva’s picturesque main street. Inside you will find a prominently displayed Diedrich roaster, coffee (of course), manual brewing devices and a friendly staff. Although they do not sell brewed coffee at the shop, there will typically be a sample of one of their offerings available to try.

At the global level, Fresh Ground is interested and involved in making coffee growing communities a better place.

One example of this is a project they are currently working on with Grower’s First and Vournas Coffee Trading in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. This area was devastated by coffee leaf rust in recent years and Fresh Ground has joined the efforts to buy coffee trees for struggling farming families (read more about that here).

Their coffee selection is carefully chosen to reflect their company values. They only work with importers and coffee sourcers that are interested in building positive relationships and affecting change within the coffee growing communities.

“It’s developing a relationship with communities that want change and then providing solutions and accountability for those communities” -Fresh Ground Roast (About Us Page)

Locally, it is readily apparent that Fresh Ground is extremely community oriented. From running a pop up coffee shop outside the local brewery and serving Chemex coffee at the area farmer’s markets to hosting coffee brewing classes and public cuppings, Fresh Ground has become a beacon of good coffee and coffee knowledge in the surrounding community.

Their focus goes even deeper than local community involvement. Their about page closes with an invitation to talk to them about their faith, which I think is a pretty great way to end a conversation on relationships.

An Interview with Eric

It was a cold, snowy Friday morning when I met Eric. My wife and I drove in to check out the shop and attend a public cupping.

The weather was less than ideal and we were the only participants that made it in that morning. Because of that, we received the opportunity of being led through a private cupping of four of Fresh Ground’s finest roasts. It was a great time.

Since then, I have enjoyed stopping in to buy roasted coffee, getting to know the staff and enjoying a coffee sample or shot of espresso.

Nearly a year later, I caught up with Eric, his Diedrich IR-12S (appropriately named “Big Red”) and Ryan Hammer, a staff member who shares some of the roasting responsibilities.IMG_7211

After they answered my seemingly endless amount of questions on the roasting process and humored my photography session, I was able to ask Eric a few questions about coffee and manual brewing. Here is what he had to say:

Most craft coffee people have that one cup of coffee that started it all and inspired them. How did your coffee journey start and did you have that one unforgettable cup?

It had to be when I was traveling for business in France. I was used to drinking the mass-available coffee here in the US and didn’t realize how good it could really be. Typically, France isn’t known for their ultra high quality coffee, but it was certainly better than I had been drinking, so it started me on the journey.

What is your favorite manual brewing method?

Without a doubt – the Chemex. That’s my every day coffee. I wake up, start my electric kettle boiling and make a Chemex for my wife and I. Plus, when we’re doing farmers markets during the spring and summer we brew all our coffee for those events in the Chemex. Not only is it really REALLY good coffee, but it’s super easy to make.

At the beginning of December, I will be writing about the Chemex. As someone who sold me my Chemex as well as someone who brews copious amounts of Chemex coffee at the farmers markets, what is your go-to recipe? 

My go-to Chemex recipe is 60g of coffee to 900g of water, bloom for about 30-45 sec. It should take between 5 and 5:30 to brew the whole thing.

What gear or gadget is at the top of your coffee wish list?

My wish list has migrated to stuff for the shop. Really hoping to pick up a used 2 group La Marzocco Linea sometime in the very near future. Not exactly a “gadget”, but that’s on the top of my list right now.

As for home coffee – I’m going to be playing with a Rok manual espresso maker in the next couple of days so I’m pretty excited about seeing that and the grinder they make as well.

Do you have a favorite coffee mug and if so, tell me about it?

It’s crazy how particular I can be about my coffee mugs. I have several “favorites”. My sit-down-and-enjoy-a-cup-on-the-weekends mug is a handmade mug from a local ceramic artist – Ken Maloney of Potters Grove (you can find Potters Grove on Etsy). Perfect size, and nice to know it was handmade by a friend. It’s either that one or my Looney Tunes mug. I love enjoying a good cup of coffee with Marvin the Martian.

My travel mug I’ve had for probably 10 years now. It’s a simple insulated mug from Cabellas. The coating on the outside is almost completely peeled off and the inside desperately needs to be hit with some Cafiza, but I LOVE that thing. The top is just a screw in lid – none of this fancy click-push-button-lock-lever-slider-cover-junk that breaks all the time. And on top of that – it has a carabiner attached! How cool is that? I mean, if I really needed to, I could rappel down a cliff with my coffee mug. Haven’t tried that yet.

The Giveaway

Want some coffee? Fresh Ground has generously supplied us for a giveaway contest.

The Prize: The Two-fer– 3 month subscription of Two 12 oz bags of Fresh Ground Roast’s Coffee a month. (6 bags  total!)

How to enter: I had a lot of fun with my Instagram contest last week so I think we will run one again.

To enter, go over to Instagram and follow both @Brewingcoffeemanually and @fgroast. Then simply tag two people you think would like some delicious fresh roasted coffee in the comments of this post.

Don’t have an Instagram? If you don’t have an Instagram (or don’t want to use it), that is okay. Here is another way to enter into the contest:

Subscribe to the blog in the side bar at the top right corner of the page or (for mobile users) in footer on the bottom of the blog. Leave a comment answering the following question, “What is on your coffee wish list this year?”

The Details

  • U.S. residents only (sorry to my international friends).
  • Contest Ends Saturday, November 28, 2015 12:00 PM CST.
  • The winner will be chosen at random and announced by December 1.

If you want to check out Fresh Ground Roasting, visit their website. They offer fresh roasted coffee, a subscription program, manual brewing devices, coffee supplies and are adding more things soon. They also have a blog that talks about coffee related topics from sourcing to brewing. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Go on over and say hello.

*In the interest of full disclosure, local is used relatively here. Fresh Ground is about 25 miles east of where I live and about 10 miles from where I work.


  1. Love this and exploring local coffee roasters is a fantastic way to just get to know your area too. My local area has had to branch out to close to 100 miles just because of the way Atlanta is shaped and that there are so many great roasters in the state.

    • Sharon,
      I have not explored Georgia coffee much (at all actually) but there are quite a few on my list that I would like to try. I second the fact that exploring local coffee helps you learn your area. There is normally great community surrounding local coffee.

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