How It All Started

How It All Started

My journey into the world of specialty coffee may be a little different than most. Prior to starting Sandhill Coffee, I had never served a cup of coffee in a café. Even bigger picture, I did not work in the food industry. How did I stumble into the coffee world? Have to go back a few years for how things fell into place.

I had just moved to Chicago to be closer to family as our son was on the way (I used to live in Michigan.) The process of trying to find my next job begun. At first, I had a fun summer job and was working on a fishing boat out of Chicago. During this, the search began, and I found a contract position. When that job ended, I started working at DuPage Fly fishing. Talking fishing all day was great!

It was during our visit to the hospital to welcome our son into the world, a light bulb went off and thought more about coffee. While welcoming our son, I have several runs to the café and bought cups of coffee. I worked my way down the menu and realized that coffee tastes slightly different from different countries. My interest was triggered and thought this was something I should look into. I always had ideas in my head to start a business just did not know what.

I bought a book called, “Uncommon Grounds” to learn more about coffee. This book was about the history coffee and I flew through it. It was extremely interesting and wanted to learn more. I purchased another book, “Devils Cup”. This one was a journal of someone who followed the path of coffee. I also bought a small, at home coffee roaster to start to roast for myself. This did not last long as I realized this is it! Let’s try to turn this into a business. But first, learn the roasting thing, haha.

To me it was a “what’s the worst that can happen?” Job offers were not flying in so let us give it a try.

From this point on is when I really started to ramp up the roasting at home to learn more about what it takes to roast a decent cup of coffee. Intentionally screwing things up, under roasting, over roasting to taste the difference. I spent hours upon hours of watching YouTube videos, reading about coffee roasting to learn what to do. The most valuable thing for me was to roast bad coffee on purpose to realize what a bad taste it is. However, this is a continuous learning process. New beans from different countries and other variables.

Views from my first coffee farm visit

Anyway, I need to find a way to make money from this new idea. I was given the idea of starting at a farmer’s market. It was a good idea but terrifying at the same time. People are going to try the coffee out, what if they do not like it?!? Had to dive in and try it. Fast forward to the night before my first farmer’s market and I remember being so nervous, that I could not sleep.

Over three years later, still there and roasting coffee! 


Where did the name Sandhill come from? That will be next time.

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