March 15, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Look, for me, coffee was never something I gave too much thought to. Apart from a standard pot and some ground-up beans, it wasn’t something I had a strong interest in.” What a difference a semester can make. Mitch Bean, retired business executive, became interested in coffee after perusing Metropolitan Community College’s online course catalogue.

Bean clicked “Enroll” out of curiosity, but as a self-described practical learner he wasn’t entirely sure what he’d get by attending Nick Tabor’s Extraction and Brewing Methods courses at the MCC North Express Highlander spot.

Bean spent 38 years at Eakes Office Solutions, as a sales trainer, sales manager, and then as managing partner/owner. Bean’s work required long hours. It was expected in his household that he wouldn’t be home for Christmas Eve. “The knowledge I gained there allowed me to do my job well; I studied the art of people and learned how to provide them with practical solutions for their business,” Bean says.

Retirement has allowed him to transition from working every Christmas Eve to enjoying the leisure of coffee-bean extraction methods.

Tabor says Bean was not the lone student professing to drink a daily cup of joe extracted from a drip maker in the class.

“In the classes, we cover everything from the unique journey coffee made out of Ethiopia to the rest of the world to how coffee is produced and processed, along with hands-on brewing skills and sensory development,” Tabor says.

In Tabor’s Roasting and Processing course, Bean explored the relationship between roast, region, and variety by trying coffee from various regions and learning how the supply chain of beans to coffee cup impacts the quality of one’s daily brew. The business twist and emphasis on different quality levels of coffee has officially converted Bean to a coffee snob. He awaits the best beans available at Hardy Coffee Co. (where Tabor is brewmaster) and firmly states he “can’t go back to the regular stuff” after what he’s learned.

During his Brewing Methods course, Bean began learning that not only is coffee a commodity, it is a skill and a science. The practicality of choosing a convenient and results-oriented brewing method made coffee no longer seem like a $3 waste and more like an art to be learned and passed on.

Two courses down and Bean is no longer innocent of the variety of morning beverages; in fact, the jewels he learned in his coffee college courses have enabled him to share his hobby with his out-of-state son.

He once dismissed a gift of a glass pour-over coffee maker from his son, but in learning how extracting flavor from beans is a chemical reaction, Bean realized the error of his ways. He wrote his son an apology letter, owning that he did not see the point of a single-cup coffee maker, but is now elated to discover the differences in flavors and richness of various brewing methods.

It did not stop there. Bean learned, via his course, about the superiority of the burr method of taking whole coffee beans and “shattering” the beans between two plates instead of the traditional method of grinding with one double-edged blade that spins.

Going from drip coffee addict to java evangelist, Bean can proudly say he’s passed on his knowledge as his son now makes coffee exclusively with a controlled-pour tea spout kettle, a burr grinder, and kitchen scale to ensure proper ratios of bean to water.

He plans to share the art of Turkish coffee with his wife, son, and his son’s significant other; and in spring 2019 Mitch will eagerly be taking notes in his Origins of Coffee course and developing his sensory development.


Visit the noncredit class site at mccneb.edu for more information.

This article was printed in the April/May 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Mitch Bean