Santos Serva knows every aspect of his business at Hailey Coffee Co., because as an employee, he worked just about every job.
He’s been trained as a barista, a baker and a roaster delivering wholesale coffee beans. Then, on Jan. 1, 2016, he added another title: owner. But, walk into either the Hailey or new Ketchum location, and you’re equally likely to find him building a breakfast burrito in the kitchen, or pulling shots from the espresso machine out front.
Once an acquired taste, coffee has become an obsession.
Despite producing renowned beans for export, Peruvians didn’t drink much themselves when Serva was growing up in the country.
“I drank the minimum,” he said. “Gas station coffee.”
That swill wouldn’t pass muster now.
Serva oversees every step that goes into Hailey Coffee’s namesake product, from farm to cup. He buys organic beans from all over the world—Ethiopia, Sumatra, South and Central America. They’re roasted by hand in Hailey, less than a mile from the company’s original location. Each origin gets its own treatment to bring out its characteristic flavors. Afterward, some are blended, like the rich espresso mixture, or Serva’s favorite everyday drinker, the “very good” Tres Bien blend.
The blend is serious business—take the new cold brew. Serva spent three months dialing in the recipe. He traveled to the Portland, Ore., Coffee Fest—coffee Mecca—for lessons, and tried every combination under the sun until he got it right. Now, it’s available by bottle at Atkinsons’, and at his two shops.
“This is what I love to do,” Serva said. “If something’s challenging, I get excited trying to make it better. Cold brew couldn’t be just another iced coffee—it needed to be something special. Coffee’s science—there’s always something new to learn.”
He’s learned a lot of it in his three years running the company, challenging himself to take something good and make it better.
“I’ve been in this valley many years, and I’ve met a lot of people,” he said. “There are so many people here who have been so supportive—I’d like to thank them all, but there are too many to list. It’s amazing how people you don’t know become a part of your life. I’m so lucky to be here, serving them, making their day even better with a cup of coffee.”
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