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WATCH NOW: East View Coffee Company roasting in Downtown Kenosha

Coffee has always been special for Jenny Ulbricht.

She sipped coffee as a youngster and remembers the fond times she had with a cup of her favorite blend during chats with college friends in the student center.

“Some of my favorite moments were when I was enjoying a cup of coffee,” she said. “We used to drink it while having long talks about all types of subjects.”

Fast becoming an aficionado, Ulbricht understood the importance of a good cup of coffee. Originally planning to become a teacher, coffee led her to switch her major. She is working on a master’s degree in geology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Ulbricht wants to learn how coffee is grown, the different soil types, environmental issues and other details of how coffee beans become the flavorful brew that people enjoy every day. What makes coffee from Hawaii different from that grown in Colombia or Jamaica?

“I’ve always been the type of person who latches on to something and wants to learn as much as I can about it,” she said.

“I like the science part of it,” Ulbricht said. She likes to study where the beans are grown and how the overall coffee making process works.

Two and a half years ago, she started experimenting with a small roasting machine she had in her home and then shared her product with friends and relatives.

“They offered encouragement,” Ulbricht said.

Months later, an idea began percolating. Why not form her own company roasting a variety of brands of coffee?

Last November, Ulbricht purchased $40,000 in roasting equipment, using her savings, and went into a partnership with Greg York to form East View Coffee Company. York also is the co-founder and co-owner of Rustic Road Brewery in downtown Kenosha. Ulbricht is not involved with the brewery.

Ulbricht contracted with importers and sold her first bag of coffee beans on Dec. 21. She officially began East View’s full operations in the second-floor loft area of the brewery at 5706 Sixth Ave.

Later this year, she will begin selling coffee by the cup and by the bag at the outdoor Kenosha HarborMarket.

World of beans

Her beans currently are imported from four countries: Tanzania, Colombia, Papua New Guinea and Brazil. Coming soon will be coffees from Guatemala, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of The Congo.

Shipped in 154-pound burlap bags, the beans are stored in the building’s basement.

She roasts the green coffee beans once a week at temperatures ranging from 300 to 400 degrees, depending on the type she is roasting that week. She pours the beans into a funneling shaft, then adjusts the temperature, gas pressure and air flow. Each step is crucial in the overall process. The machinery separates the chaff from the beans and begins the roasting.

She roasts brands with catchy names such as Sunrise Tiger and Midnight Hero, a blend that includes chocolate and graham cracker-like sweetness.

She bags the finished product and sometimes grinds beans for customers who prefer ground coffee, producing regular and decaffeinated blends.

Although Ulbricht fills orders for her social media visitors, she is not set up as a retail operation. She sells 12-ounce bags of beans to restaurants, coffee shops and other commercial establishments.

With a worldwide range of growers, she hopes to add more kinds of beans and would eventually like to purchase from growers who are women, small farm holders and coffee cooperatives. She also welcomes involvement with the Women in Coffee Project that is creating a platform for female coffee producers, importers and exporters. The organization’s mission is to bridge the gap between producing and consuming countries.

Community commitment

Ulbricht  sees East View as a company that can expand her commitment to public service. Each bag of her coffee clearly states: “East View Coffee Company is committed to our community through partnerships with local charities and organizations that are doing good.”

Ulbricht’s “Powering the Good” campaign has her donating $1 worth of coffee for staff and others to enjoy at the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha and Habitat for Humanity. She wants to add more community partners.

“I’ve always enjoyed coffee, and I hope others can get the same enjoyment of it as I have,” she said. “After dreaming and working for so long to create a coffee roasting business, the act of meeting and dropping off the first bags of coffee was incredibly meaningful for me.”


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