506 Roasts

Life, Love, Coffee….and everything in between

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the (bi)daily grind

We’ve had the same coffee grinder since before we were married, and the truth is I hate it!  Technically, its a burr grinder which is supposed to be better than a blade grinder.  While it certainly grinds more uniformly than a blade grinder, our “trusty” Braun grinder has some very poor qualities about it as well.  This is the one piece of coffee equipment that I’ve most wanted to replace, but have yet to do it!  This got me thinking about the different types of grinders out there…

If you really enjoy coffee then a blade grinder shouldn’t even be an option, especially if you spend a lot on high quality beans!  Basically, blade grinders overheat the coffee and don’t even grind the beans uniformly…it’s just not good.  Now, a good quality electric burr grinder will cost quite a bit, but this isn’t your only option.  There are all kinds of manual burr grinders which do a fantastic job, although I don’t own one (yet!).  There’s the Turkish coffee mill,

A typical Turkish coffee mill

the beloved Zassenhaus mill,

Zassenhaus 156 ( quick tip…look for a high quality vintage one!)

and the Hario brand mills.

The sacrifice is that you have to crank the mill by hand which can take quite awhile, but these mills have been known to outperform high end electric burr grinders, especially for espresso.  Speaking of the Turkish coffee mill, I found a seemingly high quality one at an International market in Raleigh for a mere $14.95…I’m kicking myself for passing on it!

Everyone out there who is as passionate as we are please share some cool ideas for grinders, we are always open to try new things!


A short brew thru

The variety of coffee preparation methods can be a little bit overwhelming. To some, the french press might be a little exotic, but for those who really love great coffee, its a staple.  The stovetop moka pot has also gained significant popularity recently, however numerous methods exist which can offer a superior cup of coffee when compared to a standard drip brewer.  Some of these methods actually save you money versus buying a drip brewer, which is certainly advantageous if you’re willing to put in a little effort for your coffee.

A sampling of our coffee brewing equipment

Bonmac coffee filter cone

The most cost effective and (arguably) the most simple coffee preparation method is by the use of a pour over filter cone. These can be purchased for as little as $10. Except for paper filters (or a reusable one) that’s all you need if you have a way to heat water. For a Melitta-type filter cone, the idea is to add ground coffee to the filter cone, which sits atop your coffee mug, then add hot water to the filter cone. A small hole in the bottom of the filter allows water to pass at the proper rate so that amazing quality coffee is produced with minimal effort.

Cona vacuum brewer size D

One of the more exotic methods being enjoyed today is the vacuum pot. This one is on our wish list of coffee equipment. The idea is really cool and the results are supposedly optimal if done correctly. According to SCIENCE, over-extraction of the coffee grounds is impossible, and the coffee is brewed at exactly the right temperature. Water is poured into the bottom bowl, while the coffee grounds are placed in the top bowl (funnel).  When the water is just starting to boil, you place the funnel into the bottom bowl and wait for the majority of the water to ascend into the funnel, then wait about a minute for the coffee to infuse. It’s a little more involved than most methods (with the exception of the lever espresso machine), however you see the whole process right in front of you because the brewer is made of glass!

As for espresso, there are several options, depending on how involved you are willing to get. If, like me, you’re lucky, you can find a vintage espresso machine for cheap and enjoy high quality espresso anytime you want.  However, there are reasonable alternatives to searching for a cheap vintage espresso machine or popping for a brand new one. The most common alternative is the moka stovetop pot. This isn’t true espresso, however, the results can be impressive and some prefer the taste of well made moka coffee to a proper espresso. But, if you’re looking for true espresso on the cheap (and on the fly), then this cool gadget could be what you’re looking for. I’ve never tried this one, but it looks awesome. The Mypressi Twist is a C02 powered portable espresso machine. I might take one of these instead of my moka pot next time I go backpacking!

Mypressi twist

What Keeps you GOING??!!

Since we’ve been slacking off on the blog lately, we thought it would be appropriate to write a little about motivation. What motivates you? Being in the very early stages of starting a small business, we constantly need motivation ideas. There are small things to get us “up and at ’em” such as music, inspirational books, quotes and, of course, a great cup of coffee!!!

As I sit here writing this post, I have Maroon 5 blasting in the background; it gets me excited and ready to work. Now, Cary would probably choose something a bit less mainstream like Ratatat or Ghostland Observatory. However, we both would agree of some Trombone Shorty though!!

Cary and I are not motivated by the prospect of making a lot of money. Of course, we want to be able to provide for ourselves and we enjoy nice things, but money is not what makes us happy. This took me awhile to learn although I am convinced Cary was born without the desire to become wealthy. As long as he can pay his bills, have his family, his dog and good beer every now and then he is content and satisfied! Our true goal is simply to bring joy and a great cup of coffee to people who will appreciate it. We also want to give back to the community and be as good to our earth as possible in the process of everything.

We enjoy being together, and with our family and friends, which is a HUGE motivation. We are motivated by all those things but what on a day to day basis motivates all you readers out there running your own business?? Please share!

A Few of our Faves

There are many items Cary and I love and use every day that we thought would make a great post to share.

We both use Keihl’s facial products for our skin care. We love Kiehl’s! I’ve been using their face wash since college and introduced Cary to it in his stocking on our first married Christmas. We both currently use Facial Fuel(Cary) and Rare Earth(Katie). We also love their lip balms. Kiehl’s uses all natural ingredients which is a plus, and working with a Kiehl’s sales person is such a great experience. They are so well trained in the products and stand by each and every thing they sell (you also get fun samples with every purchase, online and in the stores).

Burts Bees we are partial to first of all because it’s made in our neighbor hometown, Durham NC!! Burt’s Bees is affordable, easy to find, and they also uses all natural ingredients. We have a few favorites that we use all the time. I love their Naturally Ageless Line Diminishing Day Lotion, while Cary uses muscle mend for back pain and Beeswax and Banana Hand Creme in the winter when his hands get really dry and cracked. We really have not tried a Burt’s Bees product that we haven’t loved.

A few shout outs need to go to the Seventh Generation products as well as Mrs. Myers. Both companies sell natural, great cleaning and general home products.

So what are some of your favorite “green”, natural, or made in the USA products? We would love to try anything new so please share!!

Nice to Meet You

Hi! We are Cary and Katie. 


Before we start, we wanted to share a little about ourselves and why we have decided to start blogging together. Cary and I have been married 6 blissful years. One thing we have learned in those 6 years, and 8 years together, is that life really does throw you a lot of lemons. The saying is really true though that it’s up to you what to do with those lemons, we decided to roast coffee with them! Not literally of course, but we have turned the trials in our life into finding something we are both passionate about and something we can share together. This blog is about our journey in roasting some pretty awesome coffee and what we learn along the way.

Now a little about us…..

Cary Ross is the coolest nerd you will ever meet. He’s a doctor! Earned his Phd last May in mathematics and truly has the coolest job title ever….mathematician! But that’s just the tip of the ice burg with Cary. This guy can do it all. He renovated our historic home. He cooks some of the most amazing food you will ever taste and has a unique way of figuring almost anything out. Cary loves coffee but hates bad coffee. After finding little nooks and crannies around the world with great coffee other’s just didn’t compare and that’s why 3 years ago Cary decided he would just do it himself and never looked back. After many failed attempts and many fire alarms we now share amazing coffee every morning roasted right in our own home because of Cary’s determination and passion for a great cup of coffee!

Now me…Katie. When they say opposites attract I’m pretty sure they hadn’t met Cary and I yet because if they had there would be a whole new category for opposites. First off, I am about as mathematically inclined as a mailbox, probably worse. I’m loud, outgoing, and emotional whereas Cary is quiet, subdued and calm all the time. We definitely balance each other out. When Cary and I started dating back in 2004 I can honestly say I hadn’t even tried an espresso let alone cared about coffee. But after dating and then living with a coffee fanatic I now cannot start my day without it! I’m a self proclaimed coffee snob all thanks to Cary. 

So this is our journey to perfect our coffee and hopefully bring it to the world! Keep checking, we will have a site up and running soon so you can purchase your own 506 Roasts! Until then, this is a little spot to show the world what we learn along the way and hope to hear feedback and stories of other’s journeys too.