TOLEDO, Ohio — A University of Toledo student started his own roasting company after a tough fight against coronavirus pushed him to get a jumpstart on his dream.
Aiden O'Rourke is the owner of "Roastr," a business that delivers its own fresh, locally-roasted coffee beans directly to your door.
O'Rourke came down with COVID-19 back in April, and for a while, he said things looked pretty bleak.
"While, I was in quarantine, back when I had COVID, I was thinking... because I had it pretty bad at one point, I was sitting there and it wasn’t looking really good and I wasn’t able to eat or get out of bed for two weeks or anything and it was really bad… I was thinking like, ‘Oh man, if I die today, I don’t feel like I did enough yet," O'Rourke said.
The goal to own his own business and build something from scratch was sparked when he was a high school student at the PENTA Career Center - and coffee seemed a natural fit. Mornings with his grandparents always featured a hot cup of Joe.
"I started to drink coffee when I was in seventh grade – just because I liked to wake up at 6 a.m. and watch the morning news," O'Rourke said. "I used to spend more time with my grandparents and stuff, so I always just liked to get up at 6 in the morning, watch the news and drink my black coffee like my grandpa did."
And even if you are the type to have more cream than coffee in your cup, O'Rourke suggests giving their coffee a try without all the extra stuff mixed in - you might be surprised.
"When you drink it black, you can taste different flavors in it naturally. That’s been the biggest shock to people when they try our coffee because, for one, it’s not bitter it’s really smooth because it’s fresh and we don’t over-roast it so it’s not too acidic in the taste," he said.
O'Rourke explained that there are three key goals Roastr is built on: to provide quality, affordable coffee that is accessible to everyone, to grow large enough to provide jobs to locals and to work closely with other area businesses.
"All the small businesses in Toledo and everyone around that community are all being really supportive of each other in these times, and it's not just ruthless business and competition," he said. "People are realizing that when you are going through different times, and slightly tougher times, the only way to get through it is by getting together."
A personal goal he has, as the first person in his family to go to college, is to pay for his last semester of school with the money he makes from the new business.
Currently, there is no brick and mortar store, although there is a vision for that down the road. Right now, the shop is deliver-only, which seems fitting considering the circumstances.
Those who wish to try Roastr coffee can order through their Instagram page here or by sending them an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. A Roastr website is currently in development and should be online in the next few weeks.
Plus, their beans are sold through Vegan Taste, a small Toledo bakery that happens to also make convenient weekend deliveries.
Currently, there are three roasts available:
- Nicaragua - Sweet, notes of citrus
- Brazilian - Nutty
- Rwanda - Hints of black tea and lemon
A 10 oz. bag costs $7.99.
Roastr's deliveries are made to the Toledo area on Saturdays, or they can be shipped. He said that he's working on branching out to other Ohio cities sometime next year.