Chauvin Coffee continues a long tradition of coffee roasting in Saint Louis, Missouri. Until the mid 1920’s, Saint Louis was the largest coffee roasting city in the world, with over 75 major roasting plants.
In the 1800’s coffee was shipped up the Mississippi River by steamboat from New Orleans. Brokers and roasters would purchase the coffee directly off the boats, just below where the Gateway Arch now stands. Saint Louis got it's reputation as the “Gateway to the West” by supplying the westward expansion of the United States with staples such as coffee, sugar, salt, and hard goods.
Chauvin Coffee is a family business, now in it's fourth generation. We use our knowledge and experience to constantly evolve and improve our coffees and techniques. Because we cater to the specialty market, we strive to offer the finest coffees available from around the world, sourcing our coffees from only the best and most reliable suppliers.
In 1973 we opened one of the first specialty coffee retail stores in this area, probably in the US. Turns out we were about twenty years early on that one. But all along since 1930, we have concentrated on wholesale coffee roasting, supplying to coffee shops, restaurants, higher-end grocery stores and other various retailers. Beginning in the late 1980's, wholesale distribution of quality brands of allied products was added, to provide "one stop shopping" to our growing list of independent coffee shop operators, along with the authorized sales and service of espresso machines and coffee brewing equipment.
We have been a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, (SCAA), for many years. Being an active member helps keep us abreast of trends and technologies that shape the ever-changing specialty coffee culture. Our roastmaster is a member of the Roaster's Guild of the SCAA, and has attended numerous Roaster's Guild retreats and workshops in order to build and hone his skills and knowledge. More importantly, he has twenty-plus years of dedicated experience, having roasted literally millions of pounds of coffee, of nearly every type, on various types and sizes of roasting equipment. His three main roastmaster predecessors at Chauvin, (father Dave Charleville, grandfather Joe Charleville, and great-grandfather Ike Rose), had combined experience of over 130 years.
Roasting is both art, and science. The art is in defining the desired result for any given coffee, then applying experience and the senses, throughout the roasting process, to achieve that result. The science is mostly about repeatability and quality control, using, in addition to the senses, modern instrumentation and controls to measure a wide range of parameters during and after the processes. These include time, temperature, color, density, and others.
Achieving just the right roasts...
We micro and macro roast our coffee in small, individually controlled batches, using three different size drum roasters, the amounts
depending on daily demand for a particular coffee. Well-designed drum roasters allow a wide variation of control parameters, yet very tight controls of heat transfer and consistency. This insures that the coffees
are more fully developed, highlighting the individual characteristics of body,
acidity, and flavor for each coffee, at any desired roast level.
Our roasting operation consists of 15, 30 and 120 kilo
roasters. We use different size roasters
in order to roast only enough coffee to meet our immediate needs. The 30 kilo is a 50-plus year old Italian-made Vittoria, which we refurbished and added modern controls. Our newer roasters, of 15 and 120 kilo
capacity, were manufactured by STA Impianti of Bologna, Italy and are state of
the art. STA Impianti uses a patented
process of heat transfer using both conduction and convection principals. Convection air is pulled rather than pushed through
the roasting coffee while it is airborne, falling across the drum, combining the convection benefits of air-roasting with the conduction benefits of drum-roasting. The roast temperatures are
lower than are typical with most drum-roasters, allowing more uniform and linear "cooking" of the beans, while fully developing the flavor of the coffee.
took several years of research and visiting various operations to choose roasting equipment that we felt would provide the best results and most consistency. As one would expect, these carefully designed and tested modern machines do carry a higher initial cost than older, more basic versions, but the results and finished
product are well worth the price.
And amazing blends.
Where possible, most of our coffees are roasted as single origins, prior to blending. Each coffee has an optimum roast profile that brings out it's desired qualities. Due to harvesting and processing differences, climatic growing conditions, moisture content of the green coffee beans, and other factors, each coffee should be treated differently in the roasting process. By blended after roasting, the characteristics of each coffee will best contribute to the final blend. This not only requires technical skill, but artistic talent that can only be gained by trial and error, patience, knowledge, and experience.
Refining To Perfection
The quality of coffee is not guaranteed simply because it is labeled "gourmet" or because it is "whole bean". Nor do brand names, classifications, or flowery descriptions guarantee quality. Coffee drinkers today are more discriminating than ever. They realize they can enjoy some of the world's best coffees for only a few cents more per cup -- but also that paying a little more, (or a lot), is no guarantee of quality. In the final analysis, the only measures of coffee quality are, "How good does it taste?", and, "Will it be this good every time?".
With our many years of experience and knowledge, we have established long standing relationships with our suppliers, ensuring a constant source of the finest coffees available from around the world. The prices of are often set by the producers and farmers themselves, which means they receive a fair and equitable price to make a profit. Because of this they can sustain their farms, pay their workers a fair wage, provide medical services, and produce coffee crops in an environmentally sustainable fashion.
In order to maintain consistency and high standards, we contract and reserve well in advance for many of our coffees. Prior to accepting coffee for shipment to our warehouse, samples are required in order for us to "cup", or taste-test each coffee before it is shipped to us. This is an extremely important procedure, often not followed by many roasters. A restaurant would not suggest a wine to it's customers without first sampling it themselves, or serve a dish without knowing how it will taste. In this same way, we must have confidence in knowing that our customers can depend on the quality of our product, each and every time.