SALISBURY – After standing empty for several years, the nondescript building behind M&S Cleaners on West Innes Street is now filled with the rich aroma of coffee.
Within the walls of the approximately 800 square meter building, Arturo Therecka will roast the beans that are used to brew the coffee served at Koco Java in downtown Salisbury.
Therecka opened the cafe with his wife Berta in 2009 after moving from Connecticut to Salisbury, where the couple owned an Italian restaurant. The store continued to thrive despite the COVID-19 pandemic and began to outgrow its space at 329 N. Main St.
“We started with one employee and now we have 10 employees,” said Arturo. “… Sometimes my wife and I look at each other, smile and just say, ‘Oh my god’.”
To solve the space problem, Koco Java recently bought the properties at W. Innes St. in 1727 and 1729, the long-standing home of M & S Cleaners. The cleaners will continue to wash while Arturo is roasting beans in the formerly empty building next door.
Before Koco Java moved its roasting equipment into the building, they had to install a new roof and renovate the interior, adding new electrical work and plumbing.
In addition to accommodating the excess coffee casings and syrups from Koco Java, the small building will serve as a location where Koco Java will process orders from the online shop that is still to be started.
“It will be a good place for frying, packing and shipping,” said Arturo.
Once the website is up and running, Koco Java will sell roasted beans and land to customers across the country under Arturo’s watch.
Arturo, who has been in the coffee business for decades, will roast beans from distant coffee-producing countries such as Ethiopia and Guatemala in a giant green roasting machine.
The roaster was specially developed and built for Koco Java by Primo Roasting Equipment in California over a period of seven months. The roaster even connects to an afterburner that cleans the pungent air created by the machine during the roasting process. Afterburners are common and even required in many states, but haven’t yet become a staple in the southeast, Arturo said.
The mammoth machine can process up to 25 pounds of beans at a time, but Arturo usually likes to keep his batches around 5 pounds lighter to ensure a perfect roast. The beans themselves sit not far from the roaster and are contained in linen bags that keep the flavor and dust out.
These beans, which take on a gray-yellow color, are converted into chocolate-brown caffeine vessels in the roaster over a 12-15 minute cycle.
While the quality of the beans and the way they are roasted are important, Arturo said the secret to making delicious beans is simple.
“You take care and use a lot of love, that’s all,” said Arturo.
Once the beans are cooked in the roaster, they sit for 24 to 36 hours before being transported to the downtown Koco Java store or finally being packaged and shipped to a customer.
The new building, which will not be open to the public, will also serve as a place for Arturo to make new caffeine preparations.
Arturo recently bought a barrel that was previously used to age red wine. He plans to fill it with beans to see if he can marry the two different flavors. According to Arturo, if the merger is successful, Artoco customers may soon be able to buy a cup of black coffee that tastes like wine.