It’s a story we’ve told countless times over the years on Sprudge: A passion for coffee leads to a career change. From his start as a hobbyist with a corporate job, Michael Marinelli has fallen further and deeper in love with coffee—so much so that now he’s got his own place, serving up coffee he’s roasting and cupping by hand. This is Orazure Hand Roasted Coffee.
As told to Sprudge by Michael Marinelli, founder of Orazure Hand Roasted Coffee.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Orazure Hand Roasted Coffee is based in Magnolia, Texas and began four years ago. While traveling to the Middle East for my corporate job, having left my wife and newborn daughter at home, I decided it was time to start my own business. I was the guy at work who brought his personal French press to the office, making coffee at my desk because I couldn’t stomach the stuff in the kitchen. So I learned how to roast and started selling online and at craft shows. I grew the business by making great coffee, offering personal touches, and educating my customers… and perseverance. A goal was always to open a shop when the time was right.
What is your approach to coffee?
We want our coffee to taste better than any coffee our customers have ever tried. So we start with the highest-quality green coffee and look for unique flavor characteristics and high cupping scores in the lots we purchase. Then we roast every batch by hand, cupping after each roast and making adjustments until the roast profile brings out what is truly special in each coffee. Our entire roasting operation is visible at our shop. We are introducing specialty coffee to most of our customers, so we want to educate them as well as surprise them with the taste. We have a large “tasting table” for special events and customer seating right at the bar for increased personal attention. We want the coffee to shine and our customers to appreciate the difference.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We have an upscale, light industrial look characterized by lots of light, cheery colors, the luxury of walnut, galvanized metal accents, and polished concrete. For us, “by hand” is an idea that goes far beyond how we roast our coffee and includes most of the shop’s interior. My father can build or fix about anything, and he built the entire coffee bar for the shop, as well as all of the tables and bar seating along the window. It is all made of solid walnut, much of which he chopped down himself in Ohio when I was a kid. There’s artwork on the wall created by my wife. And a stand-out original, fifty-square-foot painting hangs above the roaster painted by a young artist in Houston whom I commissioned to create a canvas which tells the artisan coffee story. Even all of our food will be made by hand and from scratch. My wife is a very talented baker and many of her special “secret recipes” will be on the menu.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Our espresso machine is a 1996 La Marzocco Linea Classic. It has been completely refurbished, also by my father. I’ll run our most popular coffee, Black Eldorado Blend (named after my dream car, a 1976 Cadillac) as well as single-origin espressos through it. I have been roasting on a small Diedrich machine since I started. Dad offered to build me a bigger roaster, but I opted for a new Diedrich IR-12 instead.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We are excited to open in August 2016.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Albert Marinelli, my father, is our craftsman and machinist. Stephen Lee is the artist in Houston. All the other work inside I did myself, learning as I go. Now I can install plumbing and typically with the third attempt it stops leaking.
Photos courtesy of Michael Marinelli.