When strolling along the streets of downtown Bend, a coffee aroma seems to drift around every corner and down every alley, leading to a myriad of coffee shops. Tucked in the center of NW Minnesota Avenue is a local favorite, Dudley’s Bookshop and Cafe, a cozy spot for conversation and delicious caffeinated drinks featuring coffee from Bonsai Beans.
Chris Newson, owner and operator of Bonsai Beans, relocated from California in 2000 and began roasting beans sourced from Central America at his NW Bend home. A trip to Japan and an admiration for the bonsai tree—a representation of perseverance and foundation, notes Newson—first inspired the business name.
“There sure wasn’t much going on here in 2000,” says Newson, who’s also involved in the local music scene and tries to fit in a weekly jam session as much as a small business owner can. “There’s a certain freedom here [in Central Oregon] that allows people to chase their dream with the support of the local community,” adds Newson. “It’s a culture in the making, rewriting itself again and again.”
Roasting the Roast
While there are several types of roasts—including light, dark and French—the majority of Bonsai Bean’s offerings are a “musically-enhanced” medium roast, with a slightly sweeter taste than light roasts and a more balanced aroma and acidity by comparison. Bonsai Beans also has a flavorful cold brew, which is very popular in the summer months.
The process of roasting coffee beans, which is similar to a popcorn popper, transforms the chemical and physical properties of green coffee beans into roasted coffee products and is what produces the characteristic flavor of coffee by causing the green coffee beans to change in color and taste. Newson uses a Fluid Bed Air Roaster from Ashe Industries with a separate cooling tray, enabling the start of a new batch while the last batch cools.
“There’s a certain freedom here [in Central Oregon] that allows people to chase their dream with the support of the local community.” Chris Newson.
Currently, Bonsai Beans are available directly online, at CE Lovejoy’s Brookswood Market and Central Oregon Locavore, and will soon hit the Market of Choice shelves. In the coming year, Newson has plans to brand his coffee in very creative and ‘musical’ ways. He’s begun by naming one of his specialty roasts, Slightly Roasted, in honor of the international touring band Slightly Stoopid. By using this model for local bands as well, Bend is sure to see Bonsai coffee being served up on the main stage near and far.