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Coffee for the congregation


WORLD Radio - Coffee for the congregation

A pastor roasts coffee beans to enhance fellowship for his church family

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MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, April 10th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: coffee roasting.

Now, Mary, I know you prefer mushroom coffee.

REICHARD: Yep. Few things in life better than that together with an open Bible.

BROWN: Well, a pastor in Virginia agrees with you, if not the mushroom part! This pastor roasts the coffee in his home for the congregation to drink each Sunday.

REICHARD: WORLD Correspondent, Jeff Palomino caught up with the coffee- roasting pastor. Here’s the story.

JEFF SCHLENZ: So receive them and be them. By God’s grace and for his glory. Let’s pray.

JEFF PALOMINO: Pastor Jeff Schelnz just finished his first sermon of the day, and the nine a.m. service at The City Gates Church is just about over.

SCHLENZ: Why don’t you go ahead and stand, and we’ll sing our closing song.

As the worship team leads in the sanctuary, another team is busy in the kitchen.

AUDIO: [Coffee dripping into carafe]

Coffee ministry. But this isn’t just any coffee. This is coffee Pastor Jeff roasted in his home.

SCHLENZ: I think it was probably three to four years ago. We had been using Folgers or whatever up till then and it just wasn't that great. And we were throwing coffee away each week.

So, his wife Madeline suggested, “Hey, why don’t we roast coffee for the church?” And that made perfect sense. Schlenz had been a home coffee roaster for almost fifteen years.

SCHLENZ: I fell down the rabbit hole of coffee education when I was in seminary - when I had all these books that I had to read for assigned stuff, right? But every now and then you want to get your head, like, out of it. And then 2005 / 2006 was the first time that we bought our first coffee roaster and started playing around with some of this.

Coffee roasting is an objective process graded by a subjective experience. For the home roaster, joy comes from the constant quest to brew what you think is the perfect cup.

AUDIO: [Sound of coffee being scooped from bag onto scale]

It’s now Saturday, and we’re at the Schlenz’s home.

SCHLENZ: There are three main things that are going to impact the flavor that winds up in your cup. One is the origin of the bean, and also kind of like how it was treated along the way.

This morning he roasts beans from Guatemala.

SCHLENZ: Come and smell it.


SCHLENZ: You can grab a handful of that. Just take a whiff. It’s gonna smell different. In this raw coffee, you're getting hints of what you're gonna taste in the cup.

The second main thing that impacts flavor is how the bean is roasted.

SCHLENZ: How long do you roast it? Do you roast it on the lighter in the mid? Or do you take it all the way out to the darker end?

AUDIO: [Coffee beans being poured into metal tube, tube latched, coffee shakes]

The beans go into a slender, metal drum. That drum goes into the roaster.

AUDIO: [Metal tube going into roaster, roaster being set, roaster starting]

Inside the roaster, the beans roll around.

AUDIO: [Sounds of cracking]

Schlenz’s interest in coffee roasting may have started in seminary, but a vacation with his wife to Hawaii twenty years ago moved him from intellectual to practical. On the trip, he sampled different coffees all at once.

SCHLENZ: This is the first time that I could ever try ten or twelve different cups of coffee and realize how radically different some of the flavors were. So that just kind of like started us on a journey.

The roasting is done.

AUDIO: [Coffee drum being taken out of the roaster]

The beans are now dark brown.

AUDIO: [Coffee drum being shaken]

Shaking removes a layer of skin that’s come off in the roast. So, some flavor comes from the bean, some from the roast. And the third thing? It’s how the beans are brewed.

SCHLENZ: So you could take the exact same bean that you've roasted the exact same way. And then you could brew it multiple ways and get a different result in your cup.

AUDIO: [Coffee beans into grinder, grinder starts, tap, tap]

SCHLENZ: I always think that little tap, tap is how my kids know mom and dad are making coffee.

Now he warms water.

AUDIO: [Water warming]

Schlenz puts the grounds into a paper filter and sets it inside a glass beaker.

AUDIO: [Hot water poured through the filter]

SCHLENZ: If you can see right now it's what's called blooming. Do you see how It's kind of like bubbling up a little bit.

The finished product—fresh, hot, dark, and delicious—drips into the beaker.

SCHLENZ: Coffee is not this like monolithic thing that always tastes the exact same. It's actually got subtleties and nuance.

But is there one combination he likes best?

SCHLENZ: I would say it's not one particular bean, one particular roast, one particular brew, it's a love of the process. It's just, I want something that's good and beautiful at the end.

Most people at Schenlz’s church don’t know that Schlenz and his wife roast the church’s coffee.

SCHLENZ: It's funny. You hear people commenting in the halls of like, “Man, the coffee's really good.” And I've even heard people that will tell their friends, “You have to come to our church, the coffee is really good.” I’m like, “Well, I hope the preaching is, too.”

So Schlenz preaches to his congregation but he also roasts coffee for them to enjoy. He prays both will be a gift from God.

SCHLENZ: I like coffee because it tastes good. There's no reason for us to be able to like what we drink or eat - we could be just like the cows of the field that munch on grass. But this gracious and extravagant, merciful God that we have designed us in such a way that you have the capacity to enjoy the things that you put into your mouth as well. And I think he should be praised for it.

Reporting for WORLD. I’m Jeff Palomino in Fairfax, Virginia.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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