Can you roast? Learn how (for free)

If you live in Portland for very long, the city’s culture starts growing on you. Whether you start to feel the urge to “put a bird on” everything, or to raise chickens in your back yard, spending time in Portland gives you a new perspective on life.  As you can tell, I have been especially drawn in by the city’s specialty coffee culture. It’s hard to resist.

One very “Portland”  characteristic is the do-it-yourself  (DIY) spirit. Portlanders are proud they can do things for themselves. They have an attitude geared toward self-sufficiency, a legacy of the city’s pioneer days. This attitude was captured well in Charles Heying’s book, Brews to Bikes. The book describes several industries dedicated to serving Portlanders who are into DIY artisanal pursuits.

It is not uncommon for these DIY endeavors turn into real businesses. In fact, many of the coffee companies in Portland were started by people who first learned how to roast coffee in their homes or garages, eventually figuring they could make a product that other people would pay to buy.

If you have some of that DIY spirit inside you, or if you ever wanted to learn how to roast coffee, you have an opportunity to learn for free. Happy Cup, a new Portland coffee company, is holding a contest that sits at the intersection of Portland’s coffee culture and its DIY culture.

Happy Cup was founded to support Full Life, a Portland program providing recreational and career opportunities for people with disabilities. I visited the company a couple weeks ago to get the full story (that article is still under development) and they told me about the contest. I considered not passing it along (to increase my own odds of winning), but that would be selfish.

The prize for the contest is a free class on how to roast your own coffee. Mr. Green Beans, a.k.a Trevin Miller (who currently does the roasting for Happy Cup), will hold a private roasting class for you and three of your friends. During the class, Miller works with you to create a signature blend customized to your own taste preferences. You will spend up to half a day with him, learning how to select the right beans and how to roast them to just the right point for full flavor.

Picture yourself learning how to run this

The winner will also get 52 bags of coffee (a year's supply for most of you) to take home that day. Drink it all yourself, or in true Portland fashion, barter with your neighbors for some of their backyard-fresh eggs.

There are two ways to enter. You can “like” Happy Cup on Facebook, or you can visit the Happy Cup website and enter with your name and email address. You don’t have to be a Portland resident to enter, but the free roasting class takes place at the Happy Cup roasting facility in Northeast Portland, so if you win you’ll have to figure out how to get there. The contest ends March 27th, with the winner will be announced on April 10th

Good luck!