Roast! West Coast
Coffee People
Coffee People: Katy Szapa, Ruby Colorful Coffees

Coffee People: Katy Szapa, Ruby Colorful Coffees

It isn't all doom and gloom.
Screen capture image courtesy of @rubyroasters on Instagram

S8: E9

Guest: Katy Szapa, Ruby Colorful Coffees
Role: Production Roaster
From: Nelsonville, WI
Online: •  @rubyroasters on Instagram
What they order: An anerobic-processed pour over (when available!)

3 images (from left): A hand holds a black tumbler glass up in front of a red brick two-story building. White trimmed windows reflect blue sky, and a sign for Ruby Colorful Coffees is affixed between floors. The front entrance of Ruby coffee with independent letters spelling out R-U-B-Y affixed to a black overhang over a raised, concrete patio with a square, steel grey stools lined up under a railing in front of floor to ceiling windows next to the entry door. White letters are mounted on a knotty wooden wall (horizontal blonde boards) inside of a white frame list the menu items and prices.
I stopped at Ruby’s Stevens Point, WI location for a cup…or two.

I’m a homer for Ruby Colorful Coffees (or just “Ruby”). This was not foretold. The cafe is in Stevens Point. It’s a town that is too close to my own hometown to merit a refueling stop, and internalized high school rivalries die hard.

Luckily, several years ago, a family member shipped me a box of coffee from Ruby with a cap. I was appreciative of such a kind gesture before I tried the coffee and grateful after.

I don’t often share a lot of personal feelings about coffee in this newsletter or on one of the R!WC podcasts. Taste is subjective, and there are plenty of other people waiting in the wings to tear down a business whom they find wanting. I don’t see that being the role of this craft coffee community-building effort.

I make an exception to share some pride that a coffee roastery not just from my home state but near my family's roots is consistently producing really enjoyable coffees. I’m not the only one who thinks so. That cap I received years ago is well-worn and often noticed when I’m at an industry event.

“You know Ruby?” People ask. 

“I do,” I reply, and so it goes.

It’s one reason I was looking forward to today’s chat with Ruby Production Roaster Katy Szapa. I hope it is the first of many with the Ruby team.

NOTE: Off-air, I asked Katy about the possibility that the Nelsonville Roaster location would one day be reopened to the public. Just this week I received confirmation that there is a cafe/roaster experience project on the horizon in a building just up the hill from the Ruby Roastery. The official open date is TBD, but anticipated for Fall 2023. I’m already planning to route my 2024 visit home to the Midwest to swing through Nelsonville.

2 images. Left a low-slung overhang over a glass-windowed garage door set in a worn wood exterior of a concrete building is set off by darkened pink and purple clouds at dust. The view is 3/4 angle and leading left off frame the exterior becomes red painted concrete block with the name RUBY Colorful Coffees painted in white on the side under a spotlight. Right: A hero shot from a low angle of the red brick Ruby cafe in front of a sunset. To the left a leaf-less tree stands in silhouette.
©@rubyroasters - Left: The Nelsonville Roastery. Right: The Ruby Cafe in Stevens Point.


  • A production roaster performs routine daily roasting operations. They’re producing the coffees that end up in the bag at the direction of a head roaster or management team.

    Often there will be a lot of overlapping job duties amongst a roasting team. A production roaster may also be involved in cupping and quality control or creating a roasting schedule.

    Three people wearing ear protection, baseball caps, jeans, and Ruby Coffee shirts smile at the camera from inside a coffee manufacturing facility.
    ©@rubyroasters on Instagram. (Some of) the Roasting Team. From left: Katy, Lead Roaster Emily, and Lexi
  • The roasting team at Ruby is prolific (in my opinion). Katy conveyed how they work to find creativity within their roasting strategy, and I’d add that I’m regularly checking the Ruby Coffee page on their website to see what the new seasonal offerings are, not to mention their line-up of single origins and blends. I count 15 on their website right now.


  • Katy mentioned that prior to Ruby, she worked at a CSA Farm. CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture. It’s kind of like a direct purchase network between me and you and the farmer. I buy a CSA produce box from Yasukochi Farms here in San Diego County. They put together a box of produce that they grow and supplement from other nearby local farms and deliver it to my house or let me pick it up at a nearby farmers market.

    It is always more food than we can possibly eat for less money than we’d spend at the grocery, and the neighbors all love delivery days because we often share what we know we can’t get through.

  • The Ruby Roasters location in the smaller community of Nelsonville, WI, forces the roasting team into a little bit of a bubble, but it also enables them to shut out some of the industry noise to focus on doing what they do with the coffee.

  • Katy is optimistic about the future of coffee, despite changing weather due to a warming climate. In her version of the future, being small and nimble is an advantage at the farm level, which I found to be a fairly refreshing take. It is hard not to get caught up in the doom and gloom.


  • A big thank you to Hacea Coffee Source for letting me join them at Coffee Fest Anaheim. Double thanks for inviting me back for a second day! Stay tuned for all the fest show interviews and recap coming next week.

    Coffee Fest Anaheim with Hacea Coffee Source was caffeinated.

A huge, on-going thank you to this show’s industry partners. Click these links!

Roastar • Zumbar Coffee & Tea • First Light Coffee Whiskey • Steady State Roasting • Mostra Coffee • Coffee Cycle •  Camp Coffee CompanyIgnite Coffee Company • Ascend Coffee Roasters • Marea Coffee • Cape Horn Coffee Roasters • Hacea Coffee Source • Crossings Coffee • Acento Coffee RoastersSivitz Roasting Machines

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