Founded in 2017, many of us have likely drank coffee from Page Roasting Company without knowing it. Frequent customers of Flying Machine Avionics often notice the Page Roasting Company logo on the window but may not realize they roast coffee adjacent to Avionics. In hopes to help our community learn a little bit more about a local business and the woman who runs it, I typed away the following set of interview questions. Enjoy this insight into a Champaign-Urbana business.


Erin Erdman standing in front of roasting equipment. Photo provided by Erin Erdman.Photo by Erin Erdman.

Smile Politely: Hello, can you please introduce yourself?

Erin Erdman: Erin Erdman here. Your local woman coffee roaster.

SP: How long have you lived in the area?

Erdman: I came to Champaign-Urbana in 2006 and completed a degree in philosophy at the school of LAS. I chased a heartbreaker down to Austin, Texas where that fell apart, but I created a new home in two and a half years. I came back to Champaign-Urbana in 2013 and have been here ever since.

SP: What was your first experience drinking coffee?

Erdman: I first drank Nescafé instant coffee which was the household staple after I accidentally broke Mom & Dad's siphon brewer as a child.

Coffee kettle on sale through the Page Roasting Company website. Photo provided by Erin Erdman.Photo by Erin Erdman.

SP: How do you prefer to drink coffee?

Erdman: I prefer my coffee black, as espresso, made using pour over, or a French press.

SP: How did you start experimenting with coffee brewing?

Erdman: I started experimenting while working at a small cafe in a Chicago suburb near my hometown at the age of 16.

Page Roasting Company equipment. Photo by Erin Erdman.Photo by Erin Erdman.

SP: Any unexpected combinations of things that go well with coffee?

Erdman: John Prine music goes well with coffee.

SP: How do you choose your coffee beans?

Erdman: I have a strong relationship with my coffee importer based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I trust them to guide me when I have feelings of uncertainty, but otherwise, they have been incredibly helpful in guiding me towards sourcing of coffee that come from farms using organic methods, that pay their employees fairly, and whenever possible I source from woman-owned cooperatives. 

SP: What makes Page Roasting Coffee different from other coffee?

Erdman: As a result of using a manual roaster, I am able to control the roasting process when humidity, temperatures and other environmental factors shift. This allows me to both achieve consistency and quality when other roasters who use automated systems are dialed in, thus preventing them from making subtle adjustments in drum speed, air, and gas flow. 

Coffee beans pouring into Page Roasting Company equipment. Photo by Erin Erdman.Photo by Erin Erdman.

SP: How did Page Roasting Company get started? Can you talk a bit about the relationship between Page Roasting Company and Flying Machine Avionics?

Erdman: Once a matrimonial connection, a strong business relationship formed between the owner of Avionics and myself. I was always a big fan of Flying Machine in Urbana and having met Josh at our previous coffee distribution job, we eventually decided to pursue the creation of a combined coffee shop/cafe/roastery. While all business collaborators have their ups and downs, we have learned much and cultivated a community together at the new collaborative location.

SP: What businesses make for good partnerships for Page Roasting Company?

Erdman: I work closely with a few lovely businesses including but not limited to Hopscotch Bakery, Common Ground Food Coop, Art Mart, Bossa Nova, Punch Bar, and many others.

SP: How has the pandemic affected the daily running of your business?

Erdman: I have had to shift much of my business to online distribution. I am incredibly grateful to my customers who are supporting me both near and far.  

SP: How can people buy your coffee right now?

Erdman: People can buy my coffee for pick up or shipping through my website. They can also pick up a bag at Hopscotch Bakery, Common Ground Food Coop, and Art Mart.

Peru Cajamarca coffee for sale through the Page Roasting Company website. Photo by Erin Erdman.Photo by Erin Erdman.

SP: Any tips for making the "perfect" cup of coffee?

Erdman:

  1. Don't overheat your water. stick in the range of 200-205. 
  2. Get a thermometer! 
  3. Look up how to grind your coffee based on your brewing method. 
  4. Get a burr grinder!
  5. NEVER put your coffee in the fridge or freezer.
  6. Use your coffee 4-14 days after roasting for ideal flavor/results. 
  7. Make sure the coffee you are buying lists a "roast date", not just the date you purchased your coffee. This will help you determine the ideal time frame for brewing

SP: What are your recommendations for storing coffee beans/grounds so they stay fresh as long as possible?

Erdman: Just in a room temperature place or cool pantry, out of the sun.

Shirts for sale through the Page Roasting Company website. Photo by Erin Erdman.Photo by Erin Erdman.

SP: Are there other products Page Roasting Company sells?

Erdman: T-shirts! Mugs! Filters! Stickers! Totes!

SP: Outside of coffee, what are your hobbies?

Erdman: I love gardening, cooking, whiskey, cigarettes, making love, and spending time in the alley behind the Rose Bowl Tavern.

Erin Erdman portrayed on a tarot card with the text “Page Roasting Company – Champaign, IL” on the card. Photo provided by Erin Erdman.Photo provided by Erin Erdman.

You can follow Page Roasting Company on Facebook for updates.

Top image provided by Erin Erdman.