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Hot or cold, Brisson’s brews are a hit

Indian Lake grad roasting coffee and working with brewers in California


ABOVE: Heather Brisson, head roaster at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in La Jolla, Calif., opens a “tryer” to check on the status of roasting coffee beans. The Indian Lake High School graduate has earned acclaim in coffee roasting and in craft brewing of coffee-flavored beers. BELOW: The former Logan County resident unloads roasted coffee beans. PHOTOS | AMY KRONE


Many of Heather Brisson’s brews come steaming hot in a cup, while others come cold in a glass with a frothy head.

The 2002 Indian Lake High School graduate is making a name for herself in southern California as an award-winning coffee roaster and a consultant/collaborator with craft brewers of coffee-flavored beers in the La Jolla/San Diego area.

“When I first got into working with brewers, I didn’t know how they (brewing beer and roasting coffee) parallel each other,” she said. “Of course, they have a few more options, but they both offer rewarding experiences where you’re creating a product the community is enjoying.”

Ms. Brisson got her first taste of the coffee business while working as a barista as a student at Ohio Dominican University. She is among the new generation of roasters who take a more culinary approach, rather than a mechanical, formulaic path to roasting.

She left the scholastic world 10 years ago, moved to Portland, Ore., and then moved five years ago to San Diego to start an apprenticeship with Cafe Calabria.

She quickly moved into managing the retail operations. Then the head roaster left, leaving her with roasting responsibilities.

During her four years there, Ms. Brisson refined her roasting skills and earned her Q-Grade certification. The certification allows her to grade coffee and buy directly from growers.

Now at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in La Jolla, Ms. Brisson is utilizing that expertise, with encouragement and mentoring from owners Chuck and Elki Patton, to establish relationships with coffee farmers in Nicaragua. She foresees repeated trips to Central and South America to maintain and develop sources for quality Arabica beans.

She is the daughter of Jan Stevens of Bellefontaine and Richard Brisson II of Columbus Grove.

Bird Rock’s primary business is walk-in clientele. However, the shop’s Web site — — offers a variety of coffees for purchase.

The beers may be available through specialty beer shops in the area or through online sources.

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