Terry Patano, who owns Coeur dAlene-based Doma Coffee Roasting Co. with his wife, Rebecca, loves coffee, but doesnt get his java fix from downing espresso shots each day. Rather, Patano derives his energy from a longtime passion for the stimulating bean itself.
I am totally consumed by the coffee-roasting process, Patano says. I love everything about coffee, bean to cup, from the smell to the taste to the stories of people who grow it.
Patanos dedication appears to be helping the small-batch roasting company brew a robust business-growth blend. Revenues at the coffee concern have increased by 30 percent each of the past three years, Patano says. Domas list of wholesale and retail clients includes customers from across the U.S., as well as in Europe and Japan.
In the Spokane market, Domas products are served at several cafes, including Lindamans Gourmet-to-Go restaurant, Junebugs Caf, Wild Sage American Bistro, and Namaska tea bar and bookshop. It also has gained national recognition with reviews in several publications, including Food & Wine magazine, which recently rated Doma as one of the top boutique coffee roasters in the country.
The Patanos named Doma after their two sons, Dominic, 9, and Marco, 7. The company has operated in a roughly 800-square-foot garage next to the Patanos Coeur dAlene home since it started in 2001. The five-employee enterprise plans to move soon to a 2,500-square-foot warehouse space it has leased, at 6240 E. Seltice Way, in Post Falls, he says.
It recently bought a new roaster, and plans to install it at its new headquarters. That roaster, a 22-kilo German-made Probat, can roast more pounds of coffee at a time than the 12-kilo Probat roaster the company has been using.
Although Doma has been growing at a brisk pace over the past few years, Patano says the real proof of the companys success is in the cup and in the methods used to fill it.
Doma focuses on brewing what Patano calls cause coffees, meaning that their purchase supports social causes. It imports coffee beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Rwanda, and Papua New Guinea, he says. The company buys its beans through a broker who deals directly with growers in those developing, often violence-torn countries. Domas products could be considered fair-trade coffee, but the company usually pays more for its coffee than the fair-trade price, he says. In the fair-trade process, growers are guaranteed a certain amount of money for their crop, but that amount sometimes falls far short of market prices, he explains.
In the coffee industry, big companies are comfortable with doing business the way its always been done, even though it takes advantage of the farmers, he asserts. Fair trade is a step in the right direction.
Besides its efforts to treat growers fairly, Doma also strives to be environmentally friendly, he says. About 80 percent of the coffee beans the company imports, roasts, and distributes are organic, he says.
Organic beans are grown without the use of potentially harmful artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Patano proudly pulls out a small, brown paper bag, saying that Doma also packages its beans in biodegradable containers, rather than in the foil packages that many coffee companies use.
When the company moves into its new warehouse and fires up its new roaster, it plans to plant enough trees to absorb the amount of carbon dioxide emitted during the roasting process, Patano says.
Were a pretty green company, and Im quite proud of that, he says. It ultimately is all about the coffee, but I also want it to mean something more.
Doma is the Patanos first foray into roasting, but Terry Patano has been involved in the coffee industry for more than two decades. A native of Coeur dAlene, he and his family operated an espresso bar there in the 1980s. He and his wife later moved elsewhere, and in the five years prior to moving back to the Inland Northwest, the couple owned a caf in Utah.
After moving back here, they decided to turn their garage, which Rebecca Patano used as an artistic metalwork welding shop, into a roasting facility. The Patanos built a separate welding shop, and Rebecca displays her metalwork on the couples heavily-wooded property.
For me, it was a natural progression, and I have always wanted to be more involved in the roasting process, Terry Patano says as he prepares a latte at an espresso bar he set up in the garage.
The espresso bar sits in the southwest corner of the garage, while the roaster stands ready at the northwest end. Burlap sacks filled with beans sit atop one another in the center of the room, directly in front of the automated garage doors. A makeshift office is positioned at the east end of the garage.
A self-professed control freak, Patano oversees all of the roasting, while Rebecca operates a coffee and sandwich shop that the couple started two years ago, called Caf Doma, in a 2,000-square-foot space at 501 E. Sherman, in downtown Coeur dAlene. The caf has 20 employees, and is looking to hire more, he says. The Patanos started the caf primarily as a way to showcase Doma coffee, but since then have expanded the menu and now display art from local artists.
Although business at the caf has grown, the roasting company is the couples primary focus, Patano says. About 40 percent of Domas clients are located in the Coeur dAlene area, and roughly 40 percent are in other parts of Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, and the East Coast. The companys remaining clients are located outside the U.S. It uses United Parcel Service to ship its coffee.
Doma recently expanded into the grocery market by selling packages of its coffee at Moscow Food Co-op, in Moscow, Idaho, he says. Doma sells its coffee for about $7 a pound wholesale and $10 a pound retail, and offers a total of 10 different espresso, drip, and organic blends, and a featured seasonal blend.
Doma specializes in a northern Italian style of roasting, which is a lighter roast that retains more of the beans natural flavor. Patano says the companys most popular product is Vitos Espresso Blend, which has a chocolate-like flavor.
Doma has achieved its growth almost entirely through word-of-mouth advertising, he says. It also has a Web site to promote its products.
Doma looks for clients that are committed to preparing quality cups of coffee and trains those clients to make the beverage a certain way. The perfectionism doesnt end there, as Patano uses the on-site espresso machine to prepare cups of coffee after a batch of beans has been roasted to make sure each batch meets quality standards.
Were not doing anything special, were just paying attention and are big into preparation, he says.
One of the Patanos long-term goals is to educate consumers about proper coffee preparation and consumption, he says.
Fine-dining restaurants always emphasize the quality of their food and wine, he says. I want that for coffee.
Doma sells coffee wholesale to Brix Restaurant, in Coeur dAlene, and Patano says the company is working with Brixs owner on matching different coffees with desserts on the menu. If that venture proves successful, Doma might work with other clients on similar coffee pairings.
In addition to producing and encouraging consumption of quality coffee, the Patanos want to support coffee growers quality of life by making sure the company continues to pay a fair price for the farmers work, he says. Patano also is hoping to travel to Colombia in the next few months to meet some of the growers there.
When I know the farmers were dealing with, thats big for me, he says. I know Im paying more, but Im not hunting down coffee to save a few cents.
The education starts in the Patanos home, where they teach their children about their trade, and involve them in the coffee-making process, he says. In the garage, skateboards sit atop piles of bean-filled burlap sacks, evidence of the time the couples two boys spend there. Patano says they already know how to roast beans and make espresso drinks, and have heard stories of children their age who work in coffee fields for extremely low wages, he says.
Im teaching my kids things that I want them to learn, about the environment and developing a global viewpoint, he asserts. I want to roast great coffee, and I also want to do the right thing.
Contact Emily Brandler at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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