What should I do with my life? Ross Wagnon’s answer: coffee. 

click to enlarge Ross-Wagnon.jpg

Addiction is a disease, and the cure, so much as there is one, often involves cultivating a new addiction. When Ross Wagnon got sober after 10 years, he needed something to fill the void.

“I found coffee,” he said. “And, like all obsessions, you want to have the best. I dove into the coffee world.”

Coffee fanaticism can take many forms. Some become obsessed with the equipment: pour-overs and French presses and old-school percolators. Others get lost in the process: the precise grind of the beans, the temperature and purity of the water and the method of extraction.

Wagnon went deeper. After trying commercially roasted coffee, he decided to make his own by ordering raw beans and roasting them at home.

“It was a hobby for a couple of years,” he said. “I built a contraption to roast beans on the grill.”

At first, he roasted for himself. Then he did it for friends and family. Wagnon fell in love with the art of roasting.

Now he’s finishing up a preaching ministry degree from Oklahoma Christian University and asking himself what’s next.

“I thought about what I want to do with my life,” he said. “The answer is coffee.”

So Wagnon Roasts was born. Currently an online venture, the one-man company sells small-batch roasted beans at wagnon-roasts.myshopify.com.

It’s a startup, and he’s still learning the ropes of how to take his passion and make it a viable business.

“There’s a huge difference in roasting at home versus the consistency of commercial roasting,” he said. “I’m getting ready to make it a steady part of my life.”

He spends about six hours a day roasting on the grill, and each roast takes 10 to 18 minutes. He said it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it job, either.

“I have to pay attention to sight, sound and smell,” he said, “listening to the roast, looking at the color and changing the heat or adjusting the airflow to get it right.”

To grow the business, he started a crowdfunding page at gofundme.com/wagnonroasts to raise $10,000 for a commercial roaster to replace what his father refers to as the Rube Goldberg machine he built for his propane grill.

He stuck with his name for the company because he wants to develop a personal relationship with other coffee lovers.

“I love the idea of people seeing that coffee and knowing the guy who roasted it,” he said.

Twelve-oz. bags of coffee are $16, but he hopes to start a program with 6-oz. portions in mason jars that can be returned and refilled at a discount.

Ideally, Wagnon said he would like to open up a coffee shop to roast, make and sell coffee. And his payment system is fairly unique.

“I’m a story collector,” he said. “I’d love for people to have that personal face-to-face transaction where they can pay for a cup of coffee by telling me their story.”

Who knows? Maybe learning the tales of Oklahoma City’s burgeoning coffee community will become his next obsession.

Print headline: Daily grind, What should I do with my life? Ross Wagnon’s answer: coffee.

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