/ Modified jul 4, 2012 10:59 a.m.

Social Consciousness and Coffee: Now Downtown

Roaster seeks to craft local business attuned to environmental sustainability

EXO Roast, a new craft coffee roasting bar, has opened in downtown Tucson.

The venture, at 403 N. Sixth Ave. in Tucson, is owned and operated by three coffee devotees that think Tucson is long overdue for their vision of a socially responsible business model.

Coffee roaster and partner Doug Smith says he is using a vintage Probat L-12 roaster that he says allows for subtle manipulations of the roasting process.

“The roast is very even and reliable, and it’s also a fairly simple machine,” Smith says. “It’s easy to maintain, and once you learn how it works you can maintain it yourself, and the parts are readily available.”

Smith has a Ph.D. in anthropology and completed his dissertation on coffee farmers in Mexico. He says that knowledge plays a role in the decision to make EXO Roast a company that operates in a socially responsible way.

A second partner, Chris Byrne, agrees.

“EXO’s mission is in part educational," Byrne says. "We want to advance socially responsible and environmentally sustainable coffee in our community.”

Byrne says EXO will provide an opportunity for the public to gain a deeper understanding of all the variables that can be expressed in a coffee bean.

“There will always be the ability to get the coffees that anyone would like, but they’ll be changing within that they won’t be from the same farm or the same place, or even the same country," he says. "But people will be able to explore while finding something they like all the time.”

Education is a big part of what EXO hopes to bring to visitors, says Peter Wilke, the business' third partner.

“You can get a cup of coffee anywhere,” he says. “The only way we can explain what it is we’re doing, and make it a worth while experience, is if we can educate the customer as to what it is they are getting, where it came from, who grew it, and how long it’s been since it was roasted.”

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