“Good coffee and a good story just go together,” said Sonoita Bible Church Pastor Mike Wright. His goal for his newest venture, Sonoita Heritage Coffee, located next to the Sonoita Bible Church, across from the Fire Station on Hwy 83, is to produce artisan coffee and, ultimately, provide a community gathering place.
As pastor of the church and chaplain for the fire department, Wright already had his dance card full but a little idea, planted by his friend Steve Gamble was still lurking in the back of his mind. Gamble introduced Wright to artisan coffee roasting. Wright was so taken by the smell of the roasting coffee beans and taste of the final brewed product that, with the encouragement of his sister and brother-in-law from California, Sonoita Heritage Coffee was born.
An electric roaster was purchased and a special attachment for his propane grill was procured. The coffee beans were ordered online, as were the special packaging and labels. Wright had done extensive research into the art of coffee making and picked the brains of fellow coffee connoisseurs in the area to help him produce the best, artisan coffee possible. Sonoita Heritage Coffee was off and running, or rather ‘roasting.’
But that was only part of the whole picture that Wright had in mind. The word ‘Heritage’ is in the name of his business because he is especially interested in honoring the heritage of the Sky Islands and sharing the history and atmosphere of the Sonoita / Elgin area.
Wright has a passion for bringing people together as a community. His tasting room next to his office offers books to share and comfortable seating. His dream is to eventually own a coffee house where people could meet and relax in a comfortable atmosphere while savoring artisan, specialty coffees and sharing stories of their experiences.
Wright states that the making of really good coffee is in the bean selection, how it is roasted and then how it is brewed, similar to the production of a good wine.
Wright stated that coffee beans are not beans at all but seeds from a fruit, much like a pit in a cherry. Coffee is grown at higher altitudes close to the equator. He purchases his beans from Africa, Chiapas Mexico, other parts of Central America and Hawaii. Preferring to support the Mexican economy, Chiapas is where he tends to get most of his product.
Once dried, raw coffee beans have a very long shelf life and can keep for years. Once the beans are roasted, the shelf life is shortened and once ground, the decomposition is even quicker.
Wright offered tips in storing coffee. “The trick to keeping it fresh is to keep the oxygen out, moisture out, light out and keep it away from heat,” he said. “Keeping coffee in the freezer or refrigerator is not recommended unless the container remains sealed. Once opened, it is best to keep the coffee in an airtight container in a cabinet away from heat.”
Wright hopes that his little coffee shop takes hold in Sonoita and will bring the community together for friendship and a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. Sharing the history and stories of this special place in Arizona with locals and travelers is his goal. Wright trusts that this atmosphere captures the warm spirit of his customers as the aroma of roasting coffee beans has captured his.
For more information, visit Sonoita Heritage Coffee at Facebook@ Sonoita Heritage Coffee. Wright can be contacted at Info@SonoitaHeritageCoffee.com