After leaving his position at Caffe Ibis in Logan, where he had worked as a coffee roaster for over a decade, Shawn Passey admittedly felt a bit lost.
“I have nothing but love for the Ibis,” Passey said, “I mean, I was there for almost 15 years.”
While he was making big life changes, including a move to Torrey, Utah, Passey said he didn’t have designs on building a coffee business of his own.
“I never thought I would roast coffee again, unless it was for somebody else,” Passey said. “I love roasting coffee … I just don’t have that personality that takes risks, but Brooke does.”
Drawing inspiration from co-owner Brooke Salt, the duo have since opened Shooke Coffee Roasters — an artisan coffee roastery in the high desert near Capitol Reef National Park. The name, Passey said, originated as a “celebrity name” joke with friends — a combination of their names, Shawn and Brooke.
“He knows how to roast coffee,” Salt said, explaining she was ready to dive in, learn the business together and “bloom where we’re planted.”
“It’s like everything just kind of fell into place,” Salt said, “and I was like, ‘Shawn, let’s do this thing.’”
Having completed their first roast on April 20, Passey has been handling the roasting and purchasing of green coffee beans as well as the maintenance for their ‘86 German-built Probat roaster.
“I love the art of roasting coffee,” Passey said. “I just put myself to school on how to, you know, purchase green coffee and follow the market.”
Salt, on the other hand, has been heading up the marketing, packaging and logistical side of their new venture. Salt designed a website for the company that went live earlier this month. And with a busier-than-ever tourism season, Salt said the response so far has been positive.
“It just keeps getting crazier,” Salt said with a laugh. “I had a lot of confidence that the coffee was going to be good. … Now we just have to figure out the other part of it, you know, the business part of it.”
For Passey, the roastery’s business model is a bit “risky,” as a coffee that’s in stock today might be out of stock tomorrow.
From the beginning, Passey said he wanted to have a rotation of coffees that reflected his love for the experimentation and subtlety of coffee roasting. However, the strategy also echoes the “really, really difficult” and expensive coffee market.
“We’ll be rotating coffees in and out as we get them and trying to hold on to as much as we can get,” Passey said. “It’s kind of a promise to roast the best coffees we can.”
Passey said Shooke is committed to sustainability measures through the use of Biostone labels — which are made from calcium carbonate and polyethylene resin — and repurposed boxes for shipping their product.
“We just want to be on the lookout for how we can be the most sustainable with our packaging and our labels,” Passey said. “It just makes sense.”
Passey’s love of roasting coffee was developed under the tutelage of former Caffe Ibis owner Randy Wirth. Passey said he had the benefit of “learning those little subtleties” about how different beans are grown, where they are grown and how best to roast them for the best flavor profile.
“He was a wildly passionate man about many things, but he loved his coffee,” Passey said. “He was so passionate about small farmers and getting the best coffees he could … he honed his craft.”
Leaving Caffe Ibis — not to mention his co-workers and friends, former bandmates, and his Aggie Radio show — was no small feat for Passey. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Passey said he underwent a shift in perspective and decided to make some changes.
“It was sad, because I love the Ibis,” Passey said. “The COVID thing hit, and it just kind of changed everything.”
Shooke is currently supplying coffee at The Island Market in Logan as well as The Wild Rabbit Cafe in Torrey.
For more information, visit shookecoffee.com.