The Pepper Peddler, a local sustainable coffee roasting and delivery business, began operation Tuesday.
A company founded three years ago by UC Davis graduate Alex Roth initially roasted peppers, hence the name, but this year converted to coffee bean roasting and delivery. Along with the change of product, in January the Pepper Peddler took on a new partner in UC Davis alumnus Jake Lorber.
The Pepper Peddler is trying to make an impact in the coffee industry by using unconventional and sustainable methods in a town that is conducive to both.
In the spirit of sustainability, the Pepper Peddler buys fair trade organic beans from Honduras and roasts them in a bike-powered apparatus Roth designed, built and adapted from what he created to roast peppers.
It’s the whole Davis concept of bikes everywhere and pedal power, Roth said. Why use a motor if you can use a bike?
After roasting the coffee beans on Thursday nights at the Upper Crust Bakery in Davis, the beans are put in reusable packages with sustainable labels.
Although we still use propane burners to do the roasting, the mechanical motion of the cooling is derived from the bike, he said. It’s actually a feasible thing and it’s one less resource needing to be consumed.
The Pepper Peddler then delivers the coffee beans by bike to customers’ homes on Friday to ensure freshness and quality.
I think it’s the best coffee in town.… I’ve tried all the blends, said Pepper Peddler patron Mike Leahy. I’m from the Pacific Northwest, so I’m kind of a coffee snob. But the roasts they put together are by far the best I’ve tasted in Davis.
The goal of the Pepper Peddler is to create a sustainable business and ultimately make an impression in sustainable businesses and the coffee industry, Roth said.
We really wanted to bring the two sides of the coffee industry together, cost coffee and coffee quality, where it’s not so expensive, he said. The beans come from afar and there’s no way around that but once they come, we roast them by bike power and deliver them by bike. It’s as sustainable as possible and to make a living doing that will be a beautiful thing, and this is a town where it can happen.
Planning a sustainable business has been of utmost importance but easy for Pepper Peddler, considering it is the first of its kind in the area, Lorber said.
Alex and I spent a lot of time learning the art and science of coffee roasting and a lot of time planning out the business model, he said. I’ve always done things that I love and there’s always been money in the business structure.… This time there wasn’t. We needed to build a business that was built on sustainable principles, which meant we needed more money than we thought, which was very difficult.
However, banking in a large profit is not the primary goal, he added.
If you were interested in only making money you wouldn’t do a lot of things we do, Lorber said. We’re committed to sustainability and we’re doing what we can to make an example and modestly push forward to make the world a better place.
The Pepper Peddler is considering becoming involved with the Whole Earth Festival where we’ll hopefully be selling jars and have the roaster on display.
More information can be found at thepepperpeddler.com and Roth and Lorber can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALEX BULLER can be reached at email@example.com.