In 1996, Danny Ganim and Sharon Sealy met at culinary school in North Miami Beach, and it’s been smart quips and rich foods between them ever since. Now, the couple serves fresh-roasted coffee to aficionados at Keys’ farmer’s markets and conservation events.
“We’ve been at it less than a year,” says Ganim, who runs Islamorada Coffee Roasters with Sealy. “There was no coffee scene here, so when we moved back, I had coffee shipped here from my roaster in Vegas and bought a used roaster on eBay. You know, just to provide for my own basic needs.”
Buying 3-4 pounds of quality beans at a time didn’t prove economical, so Sealy suggested they create the coffee scene Ganim missed. “We were very active in farmers’ markets in Las Vegas doing other things — spice blends, pickles, and preserves. So she said to me, ‘Why don’t you look at the farmers’ market scene here and see if there’s room for freshly roasted coffee,’” explains Ganim.
“We don’t want to be a coffee shop necessarily. We want to provide beans for people to make good coffee at home,” explains Ganim. Several things set their coffee apart. “Our technique is a little different,” explains Ganim. “We ‘air roast,’ so hot air blows through the beans similar to a popcorn machine. This is different than traditional tumble-drum roasting,” he continues. Sealy calls the innovative process “the main aspect” of their entire business. It’s “super fresh — like roasted while you wait,” she adds.
Additionally, most of their beans are sourced through Cafe Feminino, a women’s coffee cooperative supporting small women farmers. “They get technology and money back in the field so the farmers get a fair shake,” explains Ganim. “We like their practices because it falls in line with our beliefs. It’s the least we can do to ensure farmers get premium prices for their crop.”
The pair also ensure their products are as environmentally sustainable as possible. Their bags are 100% compostable and the water-based inks used to print on them are clean enough to be absorbed into nature. Their straws are made of hay, and they won’t serve lids with their cups until they find a compostable option. Sealy explains how they also reuse shipping boxes and bags and opt for glass or plastics #1 and #2 (the most easily recycled). And finally, they recycle their coffee grounds.
“These are small local things we do to sustain everyone — the community, the life, the people, the industry,” says Ganim. Sealy adds, “we’re passionate about the environment and that reflects in the coffee we buy. For us, compassion and conservation start from the farmers and their beans and grow from there.”
The response from locals has been fantastic. Sealy quips, “Sometimes, people think I’m crazy telling them about a citrus aroma and they go back to their regular bag, only to realize the regular bag just doesn’t taste as good.” Ganim adds, “That’s our air roasting. As roasters, we all have access to the same beans, the same product. What we provide is our technique and freshness.”
Their schedule is posted at www.islamoradacoffeeroasters.com, and they roast and deliver for free on demand throughout the Keys. Just text or email for your next cup!
D – Daniel Ganim. Generally a Danny. The Danny.
S – Sharon Sealy. Skip — I have too many.
Where did you grow up?
D – Key Largo.
S – Barbados.
How many cups of coffee a day do you drink?
D – I have 2 generally before I go to market. So, I’m in the 4-5/day range. She’s 1-2, but she’ll piggyback on whatever I’m having.
S – 3 cups. We share everything.
What’s your favorite way to have coffee?
D – I like different preparations for different purposes. I’ll drink an espresso, a latte, a pour-over, a cold brew.
S – Black.
Is there anything you consider coffee blasphemy that people do?
D – To us, coffee is your personal thing. Whatever is “your thing” that makes you want to drink it, go for it. It’s whatever makes your ritual complete.
S – Flavored coffees. Ugh!
What’s the most important step in the coffee roasting process?
D – The quality of the bean — I can’t argue with her on that. That’s our deal: we can find coffee for ⅓ the price we’re paying now but that’s not what we’re trying to do. We don’t disguise our coffee in a blend or roast it until you can’t tell what it is. We barely add heat to it. This is so you can taste the difference in the quality of the bean.
S – I think it comes from the actual bean itself — the actual quality of the green coffee bean. I’m a traditional, basics girl, and you can’t get a quality end result unless you have a good quality beginning.
What’s one thing people don’t know about the other?
D – I don’t think there is anything. My family is from down here, so everybody knows our dirt. People don’t know you’re from Barbados.
S – You know I can’t answer that.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
D – Eat a banana. She brushes her teeth. She checks her phone probably and then brushes her teeth.
S – I’m up for a long time before I even brush my teeth.
What time do you start your day?
D – I wake up when I wake up. There’s no alarm clock in my life unless there’s a special event or something going on.
S – 4 a.m. It’s a little different now that we’re here in the Keys. I’m up and I try not to wake him up.
Who brews a better cup of coffee?
D – She doesn’t even make coffee. Our cat likes my almond lattes. It’s not good for him, but he loves it. He will drink the top foam off my latte every single morning. He prefers the homemade almond foam to store bought.
S – Hah! Has to be him. I told you I’m lazy. Our cat likes coffee. We don’t put it there for him, but if you drop a coffee bean or leave a bag of coffee on the counter, he will chew into it and eat coffee beans.
What food goes best with your coffee?
D – We tend to think pastries. In the mornings, eggs, pastries, and sweets go best. My family was in the breakfast business, so to me, breakfast is generally where coffee is.
S – Negative.
What’s your go-to drink after a long day?
D – I’ll probably have a beer.
S – I drink a lot of water. I would love a scotch, single malt, but I don’t anymore. My wish drink would be single malt if I could every day.
What’s your favorite place in the Keys?
D – Sitting on our dock, looking out on the bay.
S – Anywhere near water, where I can look at the water. I don’t like being on it or under it, but I love looking at it.
What’s your idea of a perfect day off?
D – Late breakfast. Someone making coffee. Day drinking. And fresh fish for dinner.
S – Long walk. Reading a book, whatever. And then chill out.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
D – I turn magic beans into a potion that brings people to life every morning. That’s a wrap. I don’t need a superpower.
S – I already got a superpower. I can read people’s character. But really, invisibility. I would be by myself for the most part and then have the ability to pop out.
If you could cure one thing in the world, what would it be?
D – Greed
S – Pork belly. I’d cure pork belly.
If you could have dinner with one person in history who would that be? Why?
D – Jimi Hendrix.
S – My mother.
Finish these sentences.
Life in the keys is…
D – Home
S – Comforting
D – Who knows.
S – I don’t need caffeine.
The coffee is….
D – Ready. Already ready.
S – Brewing.