For more than 30 years, Greg Stivers has used a large, gas-driven German machine to roast coffee beans from all over the world for Chicago’s restaurants, offices, farmers markets and more.
He started Stivers Coffee in 1985 and has operated his business, which employs one other full-time employee, out of a small roasting studio overlooking the Dan Ryan Expressway in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood.
“Growing, roasting, grinding, measurements – all those components are equally important,” Stivers said. “If you get one of those components wrong, then you can really screw up a good cup of coffee.”
Roastmaster Donnie Hunt fluctuates the coffee roaster’s temperature between 300 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit and keeps a close eye on the color of the beans with a lantern.
“It’s a labor of love; that’s what it boils down to: a labor of love,” Hunt said. “You gotta put all your effort into it and you gotta believe in what you’re doing. And the people, the satisfaction of the people, repeat customers and stuff, that lets you know you’re doing something right.”
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Note: This story was first published on Nov. 21, 2019.