Business And Technology Heat Up For Pueblo’s Solar Roast Coffee

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Photo: Solar Roast David
Inventor and company co-founder David Hartkop, formerly of Pueblo, adjusts one of Solar Roast Coffee's early solar roasters.

Using the sun’s power to slow roast coffee beans is heating up sales for Solar Roast Coffee in Pueblo. Mike Hartkop and his brother David founded the roasting company a decade ago, and say their wholesale numbers went up 866 percent during the last four years. The company was recently named a "Colorado Business To Watch" as well.

Photo: Solar Roast Mike
Coffee roasting entrepreneur Mike Hartkop shows off the solar panels on the roof of Solar Roast Coffee in Pueblo last winter.

The first roaster was built by David Hartkop, a bit of a mad scientist and inventor, using a broccoli strainer and 80 plastic mirrors attached to an old satellite dish to bring solar power to bear directly on the beans. Since then they've converted to using an electric roaster that runs on power produced by their rooftop solar panels.

Mike Hartkop tells Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about their special aroma roasting technique that allows the beans to roast in their own steam, which extracts a different flavor profile from other coffees and results in a particularly smooth flavor.