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Lasting Friendships and Brewing Dreams

Posted on June 28 2024, By: Shiloh Garcia

Lasting Friendships and Brewing Dreams

You never know what can come of small conversations and a little coffee. 

Before there was Twin Valley Coffee, there were Lynn and Lynne, the faithful tea drinkers. That is until their friends Merle and Rita, coffee roasters from Canada, introduced them to a cup of freshly roasted coffee in the early 2000s. That cup piqued Lynn's interest in roasting coffee and started a long journey that would eventually become the Twin Valley Coffee we know and love.

Enjoy our interview with the friends who sparked our coffee dreams below.

TVC: How did you both start roasting coffee?

Merle: I was given a small package of freshly roasted coffee beans by a friend named Paul Kurtz. I took them home to Red Lake and thought I had never had anything like it. In a conversation with Paul and through some searching on the internet, I learned that I could roast coffee with hot-air popcorn poppers. So, we got some green beans from him and began to experiment. We learned most of our roasting from reading on the internet… we wore out quite a few popcorn poppers and used two or three of them at a time to get more volume.

That's when friends began asking us for coffee, and a local coffee shop contacted us as they were starting up to see if we would roast for them. At first, we declined, but when we talked to Paul, he mentioned that he had a one-pound roaster that we could borrow for a bit, and that's how we got started. [It was] with the help of a friend.

We also got a larger roaster model with the same design as the one-pound roaster, which was capable of handling five pounds, and we're still using that roaster 20 years later. 

We've been roasting and selling coffee for exactly 20 years this year!

TVC: What is your favorite brewing method?

Merle and Rita: Our favorite brewing method is pour-over, and a close second is an aeropress.

TVC: What does good coffee mean to you?

Merle: Good coffee begins and ends with an aroma. I like the aroma of a full city roast after about 48 hours and freshly ground. I don't prefer the edges of acidity or lighter or darker roasts. I like coffee, black, and moderately bold.

TVC: What is your favorite drink? 

Merle: A favorite drink to make at home is a black cup of coffee brewed within the last 30 minutes. About once a week, I make a latte with a double shot of espresso. I don't prefer any flavoring or sweetener, so I like to just drink it that way.

TVC: What do you both enjoy doing in your spare time?

Merle and Rita: We love birding and hiking in all kinds of habitats where we might find bird activities. We love tracking our sightings and keeping a record of species we've seen in our lives and in various parts of the world. [Merle tries] to take good photos of multiple bird species, and it's a great satisfaction to photograph a species we've never seen before or a species we've never photographed before. The challenge of stalking a bird singing or feeding and coming away with a good photograph is the most satisfying feeling.

Other activities in our life include managing a car wash business here in Red Lake. We are also involved in various aspects of church ministry and spend a good bit of our time mentoring leaders or advising leaders in their roles.

We are also very invested in our family members, our children, and our grandchildren. We love traveling to visit them and stay connected with their lives in whatever way we can.

TVC: Could either of you have guessed the results of introducing coffee to Lynn and Lynne?

Merle and Rita:  No, we could not. We knew they were entrepreneurs and that ideas easily spawned in their minds, but we never imagined the extent to which they might take such a possibility.

We totally admire and are amazed at how their dreams have become a reality. Their and their families' ability to apply effective marketing techniques and grow a business is astounding.