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Highlands Blog: Mrs. Ratzlaff’s Weekly Brew

Highlands Blog: Mrs. Ratzlaff’s Weekly Brew

by Mrs. Shannon Ratzlaff
Secondary History Teacher

If you know me, you know there are a few things I really enjoy in life…my husband, my cat and dog…and coffee.  There’s a strong scent of coffee that constantly wafts through our house, partly because we make it daily, sometimes twice daily. There’s another reason, too.

About three years ago, we got the idea that we might be able to roast our own coffee. Unbeknownst to us, there is an entire community of home roasters around the country and the world. We started out just roasting for ourselves so we could try different flavors, but we quickly realized the roasting made for a great hobby, and of course, coffee makes a great gift! Soon, friends were asking if they could purchase coffee from us, and suddenly our hobby became a small side business.

Roasting coffee has opened up some interesting avenues for us, from roasting for our church, to being a part of our current fundraising effort called Coffee for a Cause. Using just coffee, our faculty, staff, and mainly the student body has raised over $500 for hurricane relief efforts through Samaritan’s Purse. Coffee is also a great conversation starter. I am amazed by the number of conversations I’ve had with complete strangers (which is not my personality) about coffee roasting and drinking. Add to that, it’s really fun introducing people to fresh-roasted made exactly the way they want.

The process of coffee roasting is quite interesting, and there’s a lot more science than I can explain. The roasting process is somewhat similar to the process of refining gold. Heat has to be applied causing the bean to go through several phases—green, first crack, roast levels (there are several), and burnt. I think these levels relate well to the Christian life.  Hey, if Jesus used a mustard seed to talk about faith, why not coffee, too?

1. When we get our beans, they are green and unroasted. They are not really useful for anything, similar to our lives without Christ. Read Ephesians 2:1-3.

2. When we apply the heat, the beans begin to change. It is an uncomfortable and relatively lengthy process of change that results in the bean cracking and the outer shell (chaff) falling off.  When we accept Christ as Savior, it is like applying that heat to our lives, and our lives begin to change. Sometimes the process is painful, but the result will be great! Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 & Ephesians 2:4.

3. The roast level phase is the important part. Every coffee bean has sugar and oil inside, both of which affect the taste. Once the beans pass the first crack, the following seconds and minutes are critical, and a great change takes place. What has been built up inside begins to come out.  As the sugar caramelizes, it comes to the surface of the bean, creating a wide variety tasting notes. However, after the sugar comes out, the oil follows quickly and can alter the flavor of the bean in an unpleasant way if unchecked. Similarly, our walk with the Lord requires careful attention; it is a daily walk. We experience His blessings when we are walking closely with Jesus. Of course we still battle our flesh daily, but thankfully we do so with the Holy Spirit’s help. Our paths are all different, with many varieties of struggles and victories. Read Galatians 5:16-17.

4. It is critical to stop the roast during Phase 3 because once the oil in the bean releases, it is a short moment before the bean burns. While some like an extremely oily roast, to coffee connoisseurs, the beans are considered ruined because the roaster has allowed them to be overwhelmed by the process. As Christians, we are able to hold on to the promises found in Scripture. One of my favorites is 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. We do not have to be overcome by the process because the Lord has promised to provide a way out!

Mr. Ratzlaff enjoying a great cup of coffee!

The results of this process change a useless, dried, green coffee bean into a spectacular cup that is pleasing to the senses (and believe me, there’s some exceptional coffee out there)! Perhaps the next time you grab a “cupajoe,” you’ll give a second thought to the process needed to get that delicious hug in a mug you’re enjoying!

Where are you in the process?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10 

Mrs. Shannon Ratzlaff, our blogger of the week and secondary history teacher at Highlands obviously enjoys a good cup of coffee…and she also loves to share her faith in Jesus Christ. If you’d like to chat more with her about knowing and walking with Jesus, you can reach her at [email protected].


Read more Highlands Blogs here.

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