Matt Sloan approaches coffee with the eye of a scientist. Tracking data on a computer monitor next to his gleaming custom roaster in the basement of his Riverside home, Sloan seeks the right balance of heat and time to produce a consistent product.
That’s going to be important in the coming days and weeks when he starts making the first local deliveries of his Sloan’s Coffee holiday blend of Guatemalan, Kenyan and Ethiopian beans.
“In my perfect world I would have subscribers [and] every Friday I would go deliver the roast of the week, if you will,” Sloan told the Landmark during an interview last week. “Every Friday it gets dropped off at your house.”
After posting an introduction to his new business, Sloan Coffee, on a Riverside community page on Facebook, Sloan picked up seven subscribers and sold another dozen bags of coffee. He begins delivering bags (delivery is free to Riverside residents) to subscribers Dec. 2.
“It’s gone a lot faster than I though it would,” Sloan said.
He may end up with a many more subscribers in the next few days as Sloan Coffee will have a pop-up tent at both the Riverside Holiday Stroll (outside Shamrock Garden Florist) on Dec. 2 and the Brookfield Holiday Celebration (near S.E. Gross Middle School) on Dec. 3.
He’ll be passing out free 4-ounce samples of his holiday blend as well as taking subscription orders and selling individual bags of coffee. On Dec. 4, he’ll be selling coffee at the Hinsdale Winter Wonderland event.
Getting a subscription knocks off a couple of bucks per 12-ounce bag, and whether you are a monthly or three-month subscriber, you’ll get a delivery of new coffee every Friday.
“I kind of want to change it very week for people, so they have a unique experience every week,” Sloan said. “There’s going to be some blends here and there, like this holiday one. I’m not going to have 52 different coffees.”
If a customer wants a specific blend, they can also request that for delivery, Sloan said.
Sloan Coffee is what’s termed a cottage food operation by the state of Illinois. He has a village business license – the village was over recently to complete a fire inspection as part of that process – and can only sell direct to retail consumers, so he’s not looking to get into grocery stores or coffee shops.
Illinois loosening its restrictions on cottage food operations in 2022 lit the fuse for Sloan Coffee, which has been in development since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which gave Sloan plenty of at-home time to develop what was already an interest.
He started out roasting beans using a modified hot-air popcorn popper and then bought a more sophisticated roaster before going in on a propane-fueled machine capable of roasting 3.3 pounds of beans in about 11 minutes. In a couple of hours, he can fill an entire 5-gallon container with roasted beans, which he sources from importers.
Sloan’s scientific approach to coffee roasting makes sense since he is both a chemical engineer and an avowed foodie. Sloan said he remembers watching 1990s celebrity chef sensation Emeril Lagasse’s shows on Food Network with his father.
Sloan’s love affair with food and cooking was cemented during the seven years he lived in New Orleans, first as a student then as a chemical engineer.
“It’s so different than the Midwest,” said Sloan, who grew up in Canton, Ohio. “In Chicago, food is definitely a part of the culture, but in New Orleans the food kind of is the culture.”
More information about Sloan Coffee can be found online at sloancoffee.com.