Rick and Randy Evans pull into my driveway on a snowy Thursday afternoon, two dogs ejecting from their vehicles in unbridled enthusiasm for the great outdoors.
“I brewed a fresh pot of coffee,” Rick says as he steps onto my front porch and sets down a thermos with a thud. I can tell it’s going to be a good day.
I’ve been to Evans Brothers Coffee Roasting in Sandpoint, Idaho more times than I can count. I’m not sure if it’s the atmosphere that invites community, the art on the walls, the smell of beans roasting, or the consistently brewed-to-perfection cup of coffee I’m served by a staff that is as excited about it as I am. It is also a weekday morning hub, where I’m sure to see familiar faces and friends, all of us starting our day with the same friendly conversations and steaming cup of joe.
I knew there was more story to the soul of Evans Brothers, so I sat down with Rick and Randy to find out how Sandpoint became home to one of the finest coffee roasters in the country.
Some of the best ideas ever seem to be formulated on chair lifts. Sometimes they’re day-shaping, and other times, they’re life-changing. Rick and Randy were making their way up Chair 6 on Schweitzer one winter day in 2008 when Rick posed the proverbial question most of us can’t answer: What do you want to do with your life?
Obviously, they wanted to ski. And ride bikes. They wanted to raise their families, grow roots in Sandpoint, and love what they did. And Randy… well Randy wanted to roast coffee. The way he talks about it, you’d think he was going to heal the world one bean at a time, like an over-caffeinated prophet sharing the healing powers of a good cup of coffee. He’s got the beard to match.
He tells me about how he started roasting beans at home, then became an apprentice roaster for a coffee company. He worked his way through the industry on a foundation of learning and loving coffee until he was made head roaster for a company on the West Coast.
I have visions of Randy in sandals giving passers-by espresso shots so they might pause to appreciate the elevation at which the coffee cherry was grown, how ripe it was when picked, and to what temperature it was delicately roasted. When he talks about coffee, his eyes light up. This is not just his business. It’s his heart.
Rick gets the same look in his eyes when he talks about the community, in setting up a space where people come to share time and experiences, and in running a business with his brother.
Rick is sitting in the snow feeding his dog snowballs. He flashes a toothy grin while listening to Randy, then interrupts him to tell me, “We’re best friends. Even when we lived across the country from each other, we talked on the phone every day.”
That’s the spirit that became the foundation of Evans Brothers Roasting Company in 2009 when they opened shop in the historic Sandpoint granary. They started with roasting, but it wasn’t long before the smell of sweet, dark beans drew in customers from the street. Randy’s little sampling espresso machine was soon replaced with a full open-air coffee bar, and now an entire cafe.
I ask the brothers what they’re excited about this year. Randy shows me a picture of Rick wearing Bermudas and raking a field in the afternoon sun. Then they tell me a story about traveling to Costa Rica to meet coffee farmers. Not coffee farming conglomerates or large producers: They want farm-direct relationships with small family farms that grow in micro-lots. These are people who have the same passion for their product as the Evans brothers, and the same understanding of balance in life, of valuing community.
There’s a familiar smack of hard matter against soft skin, and then an explosion of snow as Rick gets pelted, followed by Randy’s menacing laughter in the background. If ever there was a balance to work and life, the Evans brothers are well on their way to proving that coffee is part of that recipe. //
Evans Brothers Coffee is located in downtown Sandpoint’s West Side Granary Arts District. You can also find their coffee at Schweitzer Mountain Resort and at select cafes around the region and beyond. evansbrotherscoffee.com