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Buck's Beans are 'handmade with love'
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Buck's Beans are 'handmade with love'

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William Nooney has a farm,

Ee i ee i oh.

And on his farm he roasts some coffee,

Ee i ee i oh.

With a coffee bean here,

And a coffee bean there,

Here a bean, there a bean,

Everywhere a coffee bean,

William Nooney has a farm,

Ee i ee i oh.

Some coffee facts

Call it what you will: café, java, a cup of joe, the wine of Araby, or, as most of us do, just plain “coffee.” It is a beverage served around the world. It awakens us in the morning and has sustained us when we had work, particularly difficult cerebral work — such as studying for exams at night.

Our obsession with the magic bean supposedly came from a goatherd in Ethiopia who noticed that his flock became more animated after eating some berries. Later, Arabs began roasting, grinding and boiling the dark berries, or beans, in water and drinking the resulting slightly-bitter brew.

As you might have already known, there are two main species of the coffee plant, the Arabica and the Robusta. The beans, the fruit of the two species, are often blended.

Ethiopia remains a major exporter of coffee beans to this day, ranking around sixth among coffee producers. The leading coffee-growing nation is Brazil, with Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Honduras as other top growers. After Ethiopia at number 6, other major producing countries are Peru, India, Guatemala, Uganda and Mexico. The rankings of the last five or six coffee countries varies some from harvest to harvest. Grown on the top of its Blue Mountains, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world and is ranked as “the best” by some connoisseurs.

The word coffee first turned up as a word in the English language in 1598. It is interesting, I think, that the United States does not produce coffee in any significant amount. Even though coffee is the state of Hawaii’s second most valuable commodity with an annual production value of over $48 million, Hawaiian-grown coffee accounts for only 0.04% of the annual global coffee production.

Statistics vary, but according to one source, 64% of all Americans drink some coffee every day and on average, we daily consume three cups of the dark brew. That works out to 400 million cups of coffee every day, just in America. Multiply that number by 365 days in a year and you arrive at a staggering total of 146 billion cups of java annually in the U.S.

Although opinions as to the benefits of drinking coffee vary, many specialists feel that a daily cup or two can assist in burning body fat, improving physical performance, and may also lower the risks of cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. One website lists 13 health benefits of coffee consumption, including making one smarter, improving memory and preventing depression. Also, coffee is naturally rich in antioxidants.

Meander down the coffee aisle at your local supermarket and what do you see but a bewildering assortment of brands, roasts, large packages, cans and packages of small cups, not to mention decaf or regular, pre-ground or whole bean, with or without chicory, seasonal flavors, blends, etc. More choices than can be considered.

Meet a local coffee roaster

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So, with all this said, one might wonder why Iredell County’s William Nooney Jr., with his signature Buck’s Beans, would think he could be successful at selling coffee from his base at The Rogue Hen Farm. He and his wife, Jennifer, are both from the Outer Banks, although they have lived elsewhere, including near Washington, D.C., before buying thirteen acres of land in Iredell County, sight unseen, seven years ago.

Farmer and house-husband William and statistician wife Jennifer, who does statistics for medical research and works from home, also have an Australian sheepdog named Tobias, several hundred chickens, several dozen ducks and a donkey. William is seriously thinking about getting some pigs to add to his menagerie.

Ee i ee i oh.

Nooney’s Buck’s Beans is available in only two roasts: a dark Guatemala, seasonally available, and a lighter Fair Trade Organic Columbian Coffee. His coffee also comes in two sizes: a half-pound and one pound bag. He is certainly a bold entrepreneur to even consider going up against such established giants as Nescafe, Chase and Sanborn, Maxwell House, Starbucks and a plethora of smaller domestic and foreign brands all vying for your and my coffee dollars.

I asked him how this came about.

“I began importing coffee to go with my egg business,” he said. I guess I need to sell some sausage, too, as to have a complete breakfast. I began doing the coffee beans in the spring of 2017.”

I inquired as to the number of employees he had.

“Counting me, one. But I’m also the CEO, chairman of the board and also the head of research and development,” he confided. “This is a genuine small, home business. I do old-style roasting out-of-doors. I roast a batch weekly.”

So, why the name, Buck’s Beans?

“That’s my father-in-law’s name, ‘Buck’ Green. He’s a big coffee drinker,” said William.

William admitted to having no previous experience in coffee roasting. He bought a commercial roasting cylinder and an industrial rotisserie to put on a propane grill, and then proceeded to experiment with temperature and time. He says he burned up a lot of good beans before he got the parameters right.

William pointed out that his roasting equipment was decidedly “old school,” just a step above that of the pioneers who roasted their beans in an iron skillet over a fire.

He knew he’d gotten things about right when his wife Jennifer started drinking coffee made from his roasting rather than buying the national coffee brands. William says he wants to serve a local market. His motto: “Buy local, think global.”

William buys about 300 pounds of green, shelled and shucked beans at a time from a coffee broker. The beans come in sacks that weigh about 150 pounds each and he roasts about 15 pounds of beans at a time. He says that most people around here seem to prefer the Colombian coffee to the Guatemalan. He adds that growing coffee plants mixed in with the jungle plants gives the beans a better flavor than if the land is cleared and then planted solely in coffee. He has tried coffee from a variety of places, but now buys his coffee beans exclusively from South and Central America. There is a reason for this, beyond just taste.

Think for a moment about all those people, lots of children, walking up here from Central America to find a better life. Maybe if we bought more of their coffee, they might have jobs and a better life in Guatemala or wherever. Just thinking globally again,” he says. “We here can make choices that affect world markets.”

A native of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, William, 44, describes himself as “a true, blue-collar scholar,” and claims to have graduated, cum laude, from the School of Hard Knocks. He has no college degree, and his post-high school education is largely self-directed.

I think William exemplifies the self-reliant yeoman farmer that the Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams and Co.) envisioned for America back in the late 1700s. A well-read man, William is particularly fond of the writings of the late Douglas Adams and the philosophy embedded in the comedy and out-of-the-box thinking of the late George Carlin.

William roasts 50 to 60 pounds of Arabica beans a month, depending on demand, and sells on Thursdays, from 4 p.m. until beginning in April, at the Evening Farmers Market at Pecan Park (140 N. Center St.) in Statesville. He also sells coffee and what he calls “Truly Free-Range Eggs” at his farm, 169 Absher Farm Loop, Statesville, on Saturdays, from 4-6 p.m. A half-pound bag goes for $5, a pound bag for $10. His coffees are also sold at the Downtown Postal Unit, 205 W. Front St.

I recently bought a half pound of ground Guatemala, which, the bag stated, had been “handmade with love.” Honestly, it tasted as good as more expensive Starbucks’ coffees or other name brands I have tried. I kid you not.

For more on Buck’s Beans, check out William’s website, facebook.com/TheRogueHenFarm or email him at william.nooney@gmail.com. If you telephone him at 407-921-4888, chances are that your conversation will be interrupted several times by a very loud rooster.

Ee i ee i oh.

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