“Kenya -- this just came in as a sample and I roasted it up," says Krause. "It’s a very light roast. This is probably our most popular, the Ethiopia Harrar. It’s kind of like a sweet, blueberryish."
Krause, a towering, serious and clean-cut figure who talks like any mustachioed barista you'd find on Valencia Street, has never been to Kenya or Ethiopia. He did, however, spend 12 years in and out of San Quentin State Prison. He is a former drug addict.
"I spent a total of 12 years incarcerated," says Krause. "Almost everything was linked to my drug addiction. Whether it was just me making poor decisions under the influence or a high-speed chase in a stolen car."
After his last arrest in 2009, Krause knew he was never going back in and decided to join a church. He was looking for God, but he also found coffee. His pastor, who dabbled in do-it-yourself roasting, introduced him to home-roasted coffee.
"It was like a revelation," says Krause. "The flavors were just rolling in my mouth."
It’s not that he hadn’t had coffee before. It’s just that it was really bad, especially at San Quentin. Krause started roasting as a hobby. With some investments from church friends and money from his own savings, Big House Beans roasted its first cup.
Today Krause employs another ex-con, and he wants to add more through an internship program that will teach roasting, wholesale and customer service.
Krause has big plans for Big House Beans. He wants to expand his cafe and launch a coffee truck at Bay Area farmers markets. And he’s essentially doing it on his own.
"I can't make up for all the years that I lost, so I have to start fresh today and just do the best that I can every day," he says.