Fresh Beans and Social Justice Makes For a Great Cup of Coffee

Art House Coffee was started because Barry Larson wanted a better cup of coffee.

Nate Larson said his dad has a passion for coffee.

“He’s the kind of man who gets into something, gets all the gear and takes it to a whole other level,” said Nate Larson. He said Barry Larson started tinkering with a home roaster a friend gave him, making his own fresh roasted coffee in small batches.

“There’s no substitute for fresh roasted coffee beans,” Barry Larson told Patch. He was soon hooked he decided he had to find an excuse to buy a commercial roaster. Thus, Art House Coffee was born.

Barry decided to start  his roasting business as a way to generate funds for another passion of his: the Turner Center for the Arts, an open art studio in Maplewood for people with disabilities and run by his son Nate. All the profits from ArtHouse Coffee goes to the Turner Center.

“It’s a multi-pronged attack of social awesomeness,” said Nate. “They donate their profits and they donate bags of coffee for us to sell. Artists from the Turner Center provide art for the coffee bags.

Most of the coffee is sold at Farmers Markets, like the Clayton Farmers Market. Their roasting facility in Maplewood is not open to the public, but the Turner Center, located next door, always stocks bags of coffee for java fans looking for their fix. The coffee can also be purchased at Local Harvest or online.

The coffee business is just another way the Larson’s try to help people with disabilities. Both the coffee business and the Turner Center help people with disabilities find meaning employment.

Nate said that most people with disabilities can find help with the basics if they need it, but finding a job that’s more than just mindless assembly work in a sheltered workshop can be a challenge.

“Getting people to work in an actual job that gives them self-satisfaction is so much needed. Jobs help people gain social and financial independence.” ArtHouse Coffee employees people of different abilities to weigh and bag the coffee and to help sell it at farmers markets.

The coffee that Art House produces is roasted in small batches. Barry said this is in part due to the small size of the roaster, but it also means his coffee is super fresh.

“We roast two pounds at a time--we roast it as people call for it,” he said. Their biggest client, Tiffany’s Original Diner on 7402 Manchester Road receives fresh coffee two or three times a week. They’re also working out a deal for Tiffany’s to sell bagged beans in the near future.


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