Jacques Shalo grew up on a coffee farm in Cameroon. He was hands-on in his family’s coffee business from age five onward. Today, Shalo boasts a lifetime of working in the coffee making business. He recently purchased Counter Coffee, 7324 Madison Ave., with the intention of using it as a foundation to showcase his unique approach to coffee roasting.

“Forest Park really was the perfect place for us,” Shalo said. “I spent more than a year running up and down Madison Avenue and I confidently chose this community to launch a coffee roasting revolution.”

Shalo’s upbringing and professional work helped him develop a deep appreciation for the value chain of coffee–the process of understanding where every dollar goes in getting the bean to the cup. Coffee is one of the most frequently traded commodities in the world, and while the bulk of the coffee production burden falls on farmers, the majority of coffee dollars end up in the hands of roasters. Shalo seeks to disrupt this cycle by roasting green coffee beans to order on site at Counter Coffee.

Shalo believes sourcing green coffee and roasting it with the patented Java Master Roaster will transform coffee consumption in Forest Park and beyond. This environmentally-friendly approach to roasting not only eliminates the bitter taste of brewed coffee, but will eventually allow the small business to command more dollars in the chain and return them to hardworking coffee farmers.

“Counter Coffee will be the first coffee shop to bring Java Master’s on-site roasting method to the Forest Park community,” Shalo said. 

Readily available “big box” coffee is drum-roasted in enormous batches over a long period of time before being packaged and shipped out. During the drum-roasting process the membrane or husk of the coffee bean, known as the chaff, chars and separates from the bean. The burnt chaff imparts the bitter flavor commonly associated with coffee.

The Java Master coffee roaster, however, roasts coffee in small batches (4 pounds and under) with hot forced air. During the seven-minute roast, a vortex of hot air separates the beans from the chaff before burning. The process yields a smooth drinking coffee without the bitter hallmarks associated with an average cup of joe and reduces the need for consumers to load up on cream and sugar.

In addition, green coffee beans have a two-year shelf life, while whole roasted beans only remain fresh for 14 days. Shalo argues, given storage and transport time of roasted coffee, large segments of the population have unknowingly been drinking stale coffee. He is eager to introduce the Forest Park community to truly fresh-roasted coffee.

“Our approach to roasting and brewing coffee is similar to micro-brewing beer;” said Shalo, “we hope to cater to our local community by offering small batch, custom roasted blends and a private label program.”

Beyond adopting the Java Master system, Shalo and his team have made a smooth transition into the existing Counter Coffee space. They aim to make gradual aesthetic changes over time and introduce “pick me up” coffee inspired cocktails in the future.

But for now, just stop by and taste a cup of genuinely fresh roasted coffee at your neighborhood coffee shop.