The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Fresh grounds both at home and on campus; City College groundskeeper makes his own coffee roast
City College Groundskeeper Ryan Laskowski stands among the campus’ plant life on a bright spring day. Anastasia Jones | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

Travis Holman
Guest Writer
[email protected]

The scent of gasoline and motor oil fill the air. So does the essence of freshly cut grass. Dewdrops drip from the leaves of shrubs along the baseball stadium. A blazing roaster spews out thousands of steaming hot coffee beans, filling the air with a bitter, yet comforting scent. These two scenes may not seem to fit together, but for 28-year-old Ryan Laskowski, these two daily takes are part of his daily grind.

As a full-time City College groundskeeper, you’d think that would be enough to keep a person busy. But when Laskowski punches out for the day, he heads off to his job as a production coffee roaster at Pachamama Coffee in the heart of midtown Sacramento.

“My first job was at a coffee shop,” Laskowski says. “But I didn’t want to work at the coffee shop. I didn’t actually like coffee at all.”

So instead of simply finding a new job, Laskowski went to American River College and received a horticulture degree. He set his sights on City College and landed the job of groundskeeper.

“That’s one motivated guy,” says Greg Miller, City College’s lead groundskeeper. “He really gets into the culture of whatever he’s working on. He’s always willing to lend a hand when you need it.”

Laskowski’s constant smile as he works on City College’s landscape is a mere indicator that he is happy with his work.

As the sun draws nearer to the horizon and the majority of students have gone home for the day, Laskowski finishes his work day at the college, too. He gets cleaned up from his daily regimen of plant matter and potting soil, and finds himself in his second role as coffee roaster. With the flip of a lever, 50 pounds of freshly roasted beans pour from the roaster into a circular drum called the bean cooler. Three paddled spokes slowly spin at a consistent rate, sifting and turning the beans as steam emits from them.

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“With this coffee, you shouldn’t even need cream or sugar,” laughs Laskowski. “It’s that good.”

Laskowski even has his own coffee roasting effort in motion. Simple Roots, he calls it. He has purchased his own small roaster, sources high-quality beans and establishes his own clientele on top of his already busy schedule.

Andrea Perez Richards, a former City College student, doesn’t necessarily like to drink coffee. Recently, she tried a cup that Laskowski had roasted.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect with all of the new coffee places around town,” Perez Richards says, “but this coffee is delicious.”

So far, Sactown Union Brewery has collaborated with Laskowski to brew a golden stout beer, utilizing his light roast, organic El Salvadorian coffee beans. There are currently other breweries in the Sacramento area that are interested in using Simple Roots coffee for other coffee-infused beers.

Here’s the kicker:  Rather than going the old school route of setting up shop in a brick-and-mortar establishment, Laskowski roasts beans at home and distributes his products personally to his clientele. Breweries are the main channel of distribution for Simple Roots, and so far this strategy seems to be working. He also includes his fellow City College workers in his coffee adventure.

“Working with Ryan is just as good as the coffee he brings us to try, and we love that,” Miller says.

Whether you’re running late for class and see him trimming flowers along the walkways on campus, or you find him in a hot, sticky room roasting the coffee that fuels your mornings, you’ll see Ryan Laskowski making the world a more beautiful place as a groundskeeper and a better-smelling place as a coffee roaster.

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