Locals Only: Meet Dominic Dolar & Natomas-based Liberty Coffee Roasting Co.

Dominic Dolar roasting coffee beans in Natomas. / Photo: T. Drotar

Dominic Dolar roasting coffee beans in Natomas. / Photo: T. Drotar

BY TRINA DROTAR
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Photo: T. Drotar

Photo: T. Drotar

By day, Dominic Dolar works as an engineer on the campus of UC Davis, analyzing the university’s telephone network, testing and implementing a voice over IP solution and working with others to resolve service interruptions.

After work – sometimes late into the night – he can be found roasting and grinding coffee for his home-based business, Liberty Coffee Roasting Company.

Although the two jobs may seem different, Dolar says his professional work “complements what I do with coffee because it gives me the analytic workout I need to be able to calculate total dissolved solids in X amount of brewed coffee for palatable consistency.”

Dolar first became interested in coffee while in the Marine Corps and living in Camp Pendleton in what he refers to the pre-Google and Yelp days, back in 1995. He was searching for coffee better than that served chow hall and ended up in Mission Viejo at a Diedrich Coffee Shop. There, he had his first cappuccino.

“It was so far and away from what I thought coffee was,” Dolar said. “That shop became my weekend secret hid out. I’d show up there to relax after a brutal training week, drink real coffee, and read every single page of the Sunday edition of the Orange County Register, paying special attention to the comics.”

Photo: T. Drotar

Photo: T. Drotar

Nearly two decades later, Dolar is roasting and grinding specialty coffee in a red and chrome roaster. He is a nano roaster, roasting fewer than 200 pounds a year. He started roasting out of his Natomas home in 2009. Dolar made his roasting business a legal entity and sells his coffee blends person to person thanks to the Cottage Foods Act.

Selling person to person can be quite the challenge, Dolar explained, because he can’t mail the one pound packages. Folks may pick up their purchases or Dolar personally delivers. When orders come in, he might work through the night to measure, roast, grind and package the products.

Dolar insists the product he sells is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. The coffee beans are organic, the roaster was made in Idaho, the bags he uses come from Washington and can be composted, and the letterpress labels are hand-printed in Grass Valley.

“It would feel wrong to source all these things from overseas when we are in the middle of a floundering economy and friends and neighbors are out looking for work,” he said. “I refuse to believe that there is a shortage of willing hands that can produce the things we need. We can get everything that we need right here. We just have to look hard.”

Dolar’s coffee customers include neighborhood eatery – The Waffle Experience. He can be found at the farm-to-fork restaurant at least three evenings a week making sure that everything is properly functioning. He tests, adjusts and readjusts the water filtration system to make sure that the water isn’t too hard, that the brewing and holding temperatures are just right and that there is enough coffee on hand for diners.

Photo: T. Drotar

Photo: T. Drotar

Dolar said it’s a balance between keeping the restaurant supplied with coffee and making sure the beans are fresh, not stale.

“We have this fantastic opportunity to introduce people to what great food and coffee can be and it’s important to take advantage of it in the most honest way possible,” he explained. “For me that means working late nights a few times a week, obsessing over the details so that what’s experienced in the cup is outstanding.”

Coffee is almost always on Dolar’s mind, whether he’s considering a new recipe for an espresso drink or trying to remember if the equipment’s been properly calibrated or wondering what farms are in season, but he also is sure to make time for his wife Priscilla and their two daughters.

To escape the valley heat, the Dolar family often drives to the foothills or the beach where they enjoy flying kites, building sand castles or searching for interesting shells. Not long ago, Dolar’s family surprised him with an antique cast iron hand-crank coffee grinder which he planned to take on one of their trips.

“I plan on pan roasting coffee on the camp fire and then grinding it through the grinder the next morning for some ‘cowboy’ coffee,” he said.


More information about Liberty Coffee Roasting Co. can be found at libertycoffeeroasting.com.

Coffee has a sweet spot of between 24 hours and 10 days, then it will begin to stale. / Photo: T. Drotar

Coffee has a sweet spot of between 24 hours and 10 days, then it will begin to stale. / Photo: T. Drotar