The Split Rail Story

The inspiration for Split Rail Coffee’s name comes from its original headquarters on a 3.5 acre park-like property in Granite Bay, California. Previous residents of the property included a number of horses, sheep, and goats, but it eventually became home to me (Tim) and Cidnie…and my U.S. Roaster Corporation coffee roaster.  As we grew and got busier, we moved from our idyllic setting to a more commercial area nearby in Rocklin, with more foot traffic and, well, customers around.

My journey to becoming a coffee roaster included a long task of converting an old horse stable into my roasting lab and tasting room. It was known as The Coffee Barn…a single room with reclaimed barn wood and shiplap-sided walls.

At one end you’d find the roaster, bags of green coffee, and all the area I needed to create the best coffee that I have ever enjoyed. The rest of the room was filled with a large table with bench seating to share and explore the world of coffee with our guests. The farmhouse décor created an atmosphere that reminded us of simpler times…and a time when coffee tastes good.

Why I Drink Coffee

I love to drink coffee…really good coffee…and I have been drinking it for a very long time. Good coffee is bright, has some sweetness and is not so bitter that it makes tears come down your face. It is very drinkable and can release a wheel of flavors.

As a young child, I would sneak cups from the coffee pot in my parent’s kitchen. I drank coffee throughout high school, college, and into adulthood. Over time, I discovered a world of flavors and coffees that were great and coffees that weren’t. Coffee has been a part of my daily ritual and a very important part of soul.

I drink coffee everyday…and I only drink it black. My morning cup starts as a time of reflection, and then leads into strategic planning of the upcoming day. A mid-day cup serves as a reward for the work that has been done and the lift to keep moving forward. An occasional late afternoon cup calms but also rejuvenates my soul as the day wraps up.

My normal is 2 to 4 cups a day…everyday…so it had better be good coffee. The coffee needs to be pleasant to drink, full of wonderful flavors and aromas. It must bring a smile to my face and a knowledge that all is well in the world. I have no patience, time, or the desire to drink bad coffee. The most important reason I drink coffee is because I enjoy it!

Why I Roast Coffee

I desire to drink my coffee black…and like everyone else, it is nearly impossible to drink black coffee at the big chains. I have requested cups of black coffee at the big coffee houses…only to find myself at the toppings table doing everything I can to make the coffee drinkable. The taste is bitter and reminds me of a bad cigar or old gym socks. Bad coffee is burnt and stale, and this bad taste may stay with you for many hours.

For most folks and in more recent times, coffee has become a function of convenience and even worse…about toppings. Great coffee disappeared and inferior quality coffee was roasted, brewed, and served hidden by cream, sugar, and shots of chocolate, caramel, or pumpkin spice. At home, coffee comes sealed in a plastic K-cup and is never seen…only a black liquid spews out one cup at a time. I fell into this trap like many others until my desire for a great cup of coffee sent me on a journey.

I started roasting out of necessity… to create a coffee worthy of drinking every day. I used an old hot air popcorn popper until I burnt my fingers and the popper freaked out and died. By working with a more robust machine, I learned the art and science of the roast…all while learning subtle differences in flavor.

Mostly, I learned the differences between good coffee and bad coffee. I actually became excited every morning to wake up because I knew that I would be drinking the best coffee I had ever had, every morning. I became so excited about my roasted product that I shared it with anyone who was interested.And then it happened; these friends and acquaintances asked for more and offered to buy it. From this experience grew Split Rail Coffee.