Bozeman ain’t afraid of no ghosts

Walking into the roastery of Ghost Town Coffee Roasters on N. Rouse street, I felt a sense of meticulously organized chaos, with a drop of regular chaos making it friendlier. Antique bikes hang from the walls, a vestige of a time before boxes filled with equipment and coffee shop supplies threatened to touch the ceiling.

Chad Kimm, owner and head roaster at Ghost Town, admits the space is reaching maximum capacity. The upstairs contains crayon murals apparently drawn by his children and a coffee-brewing battle station so extensively equipped that I have to believe Kimm loves his job.

The trail leading to Ghost Town Coffee Roasters started for Kimm when he lived in Seattle, where he often attended coffee trade shows. After moving back to Bozeman, Kimm began roasting his own coffee in small batches at home, and soon wondered if he could open his own business. In 2006 he did just that — while working at Costco, he started Crema Roasting. Later, he changed the name to Ghost Town to avoid confusion with other companies of the same name and to show regional interest.

As a newcomer in the market, then dominated by Rocky Mountain Roasting Co., Kimm fought for grocery store shelf space. The Co-Op and Sola Cafe were some of his first big contracts. Now, with increasing business, Kimm has hired three other employees to help him meet the demand.

Although I’ve had Ghost Town’s coffee served by Cafe M, I picked up two bags at Joe’s Parkway to make at home. For nerds like me that care, I cupped both coffees using the inverted aeropress method with a two-minute immersion, ground with a Hario conical-burr hand grinder.

The first coffee was the Honduras Las Capucas, a single-origin bean named for the region it’s grown in. This medium roast was sweet with a moderate body and a hint of dark chocolate. There was a bright flavor I couldn’t identify, although the flavor notes provided by Cafe M describe it as a crisp apple tartness. It is also worth noting that this coffee is Rain Forest Alliance certified, meaning the beans were shade-grown using larger trees to support migratory birds and other species.

The second coffee was the signature Dawn blend. This organic, fair-trade blend is a medium to dark roast. I detected a nice butteriness to the drink, and a slight smokiness possibly due to the roast temperature. My roommate aptly described the Central-American blend as “a really good plain-cup-of-joe.” This coffee doesn’t speak volumes but it’s a great staple as a morning go-to. And at $10 a bag, all of Ghost Town’s coffees are a good deal compared to other local roasters.

Ghost Town is characterized by its light roasting and attention to detail. Kimm doesn’t roast coffees to a temperature he arbitrarily wants to produce, he tries every new batch at multiple temperatures during a test roast to find its optimal profile. “I will always resist marketing a French roast just to have a French roast,” Kimm said.

Although I’m excited about many directions coffee is taking in Bozeman, I am especially excited to see this company continue growing.

To pick up a bag of Ghost Town beans, head to Town and Country, Joe’s Parkway, Heeb’s, Cafe M or the Co-Op.