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Coffee lover branches out: Alexandria man turns roasting into a side business

Bryce Swenson set up a Bryce's Beans booth at the Echo Press Lifestyles Expo in Viking Plaza in February. (Al Edenloff | Echo Press)1 / 4
Bryce Swenson of Alexandria stands next to his coffee bean bins and roaster in his garage. He uses a custom-made container that fits in an electric rotisserie oven to roast the beans. (Lowell Anderson | Echo Press)2 / 4
Bryce Swenson sells 12 ounce bags of fresh-roasted coffee beans through his website at www.brycesbeans.com. (Lowell Anderson | Echo Press)3 / 4
Bryce Swenson shows some of the coffee beans he has roasted. (Lowell Anderson | Echo Press)4 / 4

Bryce Swenson loves everything about coffee: roasting it, grinding it, and he says the best part is drinking it.

Swenson, a senior credit analyst at Viking Bank in Alexandria, has turned his coffee hobby into a side job – Bryce’s Beans.

Swenson imports coffee beans, roasts them in his garage and then sells them through a website – brycesbeans.com – or through the occasional trade show.

He started out roasting beans just to satisfy his own coffee tastes.

He then started giving away his roasted coffee as gifts. Some of those people started asking to buy more coffee for themselves or to give as a gift. Then just some people “out of the blue” made requests, he said.

“I decided to give it a go selling it to people at the end of last year,” Swenson said.

“Christmas was pretty busy.”

He has started to get repeat orders as people started to run out of their first batch of beans.

He did one trade show over the winter where he sold out of his inventory and in February had a booth at the Echo Press Lifestyles Expo at Viking Plaza, where he sold out his supply.

He said he is considering more trade shows and plans to set up this summer at the farmer’s market.

Swenson says Bryce’s Beans fills a niche between larger coffee shops and the coffee beans available at retail outlets.

“I am that middle man who provides fresh, locally-roasted coffee that is sold in small batches and brewed fresh every morning by the consumer,” Swenson said.

Swenson and his wife, Crystal, built a house last year and turned the garage into a roasting area. He has been gradually increasing the size of the roasters he has. Swenson imports beans from Brazil, Costa Rica and Sumatra.

“Now I can handle a pretty big amount in not a lot of time,” he said.

Crystal, a speech pathologist at Douglas County Hospital, designed the Bryce’s Beans website, does the bookkeeping for the business and helps with bagging up beans when needed.

Swenson is mostly selling his beans in the Alexandria area and will even make local deliveries.

“It’s much easier than trying to figure out shipping,” he said.

He doesn’t envision his enterprise amounting to more than, say, a hill of beans or becoming a full-time job.

“If it was, that would be awesome,” Swenson said. “But I kind of like my main job, too.”

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