Fort Valley growers and roasters; Cleveland Organics
Fort Valley roaster, pecan farmer and mom on a mission, Beth Cleveland, talks about the process of roasting coffee beans and marketing organic products.
IN HER OWN WORDS
Our business evolved from something our son wanted to try.….In 2007 I had opened a pottery painting, cooking class and events business in Fort Valley. Our son Tom decided to move back home in 2009 and transition pecans that have been on our family farm for over 50 years into organically grown pecans. Since we have a small amount of pecans that can be grown organically, we decided to utilize my commercial kitchen and cook some of them as a value added product. Although we still offer cooked pecans and confections on our website, most of our pecans are sold in bulk to our wholesale customers.
Two of my customers intrigued me with roasting coffee. A man painting pottery asked me if there was a place to buy a cup of coffee for his daughter. I offered to make her some. The next day he showed up with beans that he had roasted himself. I was pretty impressed with the concept. A few days later this same man happened to be in my shop when another customer came in… the two of them were friends and both are home coffee roasters. They decided to teach me how it was done. Pretty soon, I found myself with a legal pad logging information about roasts and flavor profiles. It wasn’t long before I had ordered green coffee beans from several different origins and was logging about differences in flavors and roasts. Experimenting with coffee became my favorite past time. I got stuck at home for a few weeks caring for my mom. I borrowed several air popcorn poppers and rounded up a lot of extension cords. I rigged a coffee lab on my mom’s porch. My husband suggested I buy a small roaster before I burned her house down. The only roaster that I could afford- looked a lot like a chicken rotisserie. My kids called it “Mom’s Chicken Roaster”. I started selling a few bags to friends and customers. and eventually started selling on line. Pretty soon- I bought the commercial coffee roaster that I am still using now.
One of our biggest challenges was waiting to be certified organic. It was a three year process filled with inspections and paper work. At the time I didn’t realize that it would take us that long to figure out what we were doing- That isn’t to say that we have figured everything out! As with any business we are constantly evolving. Tom, handles the pecan farm and bulk pecan orders. I handle the coffee, confections and mail order. My husband, David is busy with our wholesale ornamental tree business and tries to keep us headed in the right direction.
Along the way, we have tried organic asparagus, organic tomatoes, organic blackberries, organic soybeans and I am sure a few other things! I have tried countless recipes and concoctions-that we can make with our products. Some have worked and some have not! In 2011, I won the Flavor of Georiga food contest sponsored by the Georgia Department of Agriculture in two categories- “Coffee Toffee” won in the Confections category and “Twisted Pecans” won the snack food category. Since I was making chocolate covered pecans- I decided to try making chocolate covered coffee beans. I had tasted some that were mainly chocolate and thought I would try an upscale approach. I decided to blend organic chocolates and pair them with coffee that I thought fit a certain flavor profile. In 2012 “Caffeine Crunch” won the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Best New Food and People’s choice awards in Portland, Oregon. A few years ago, our pecans were featured in the New York Times Holiday Gift Giving Guide. All of those things have helped us to grow and gain attention that we could have not done on our own.
I market my coffee under the name Morning By Morning Coffee. The name is taken from my favorite hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness. My goal is to find unique ways to give back to coffee regions as well as support mission projects in the USA. Through importers, we buy organic coffee from at least 13 different coffee regions. We love to provide coffee to churches, schools and businesses. We are happy to package our products in the perfect portions to accommodate your coffee equipment We can also provide commercial equipment when needed. We are happy to help many of our commercial customers select or blend a coffee that fits their fancy.
In the last few years our involvement with Georgia Grown has helped to get our name spread to different areas of Georgia. There are many Georgia businesses that send Georgia Grown corporate gifts. Involvement with unique ventures like “The Creek 100.9FM” have also helped us to grow. in Macon and surrounding areas.
Another of our sons is off on an adventure to Costa Rica to work as an intern on UGA’s Study Abroad Campus and farm. He is interested in helping farmers export crops. Hopefully, he will take an interest in Mom’s business and help figure out some of the challenges that prevented us from helping this family in Guatemala. I have recently talked with a Mercer student who is also trying to import coffee. Hopefully, I will be able to work some of these young men’s dreams into my own mission adventure. Our tag line is “Wake Up With a Mission.” It can be as close as your own front door. Hopefully our coffee’s name will be a reminder that new mercies are offered every day and each day can be a mission adventure- no matter where you are!