It was still the dead of winter, but Doug and Jocelyn Plass were snug in the break room of the Windermere Powerhouse in Boise, the former event center-turned-real estate headquarters, talking about the perilous drive between the City of Trees and Stanley.
"There have been harrowing drives, but some people commute as much as I do," Doug said. "I get this nice drive twice a week, where nobody can contact me on the telephone. I've done it so many times now that every bend in the road is like home."
That time of year, though, was especially treacherous. The last time he'd made the journey before speaking with Boise Weekly in February, he'd had close calls in his car with two deer and a fox, and shortly afterward, an avalanche had buried a stretch of Idaho Highway 21—one of the few roads into the mountain town. Doug makes the trip in a car stocked with cheese, condiments, vegetables, and, more recently, fresh-roasted coffee.
He is the co-owner of Redd Square, a restaurant in the newly developed Stanley Town Square that opened in late June 2018, but since January, he and Jocelyn have taken advantage of an unusual appliance in the Powerhouse break room—a Diedrich coffee roaster—to roast their own beans, which they pour and sell exclusively at Redd Square.
"This fell into our life, and now we're trying to roast every week and learn as much as we possibly can," Jocelyn said. "The idea is to parlay that into another business."
When Windermere took over the Powerhouse, the new owner renovated a space on the main floor into a lavish break room. Along with a full cooking range, stone-topped counter and cozy dining area, it also features the roaster and a metal rack overflowing with burlap sacks of coffee beans. Jocelyn, who is a Boise-based real estate agent with Windermere, has taken full advantage of the space.
- Harrison Berry
- Doug and Jocelyn Plass pose with their coffee roaster.
Redd Square joins a handful of other Boise-based roasters like Form & Function, Hammer & Kettle and Neckar Coffee, though Doug and Jocelyn admitted that they're neophytes at the practice. Nevertheless, their Guatemala, which Dough described as "just shy of a Vienna roast," and their lighter-roasted Sumatra both pass the taste test, and they said they've sold between 20 and 25 pounds of the stuff since they started offering it at Redd Square in January. Unlike their Boise peers, who lean toward lighter, fruitier roasts, the Plasses roast slightly darker, and in the cup, the coffee has a full aroma and rich flavor.
So far, the Plasses have roasted from the store of beans at Windermere, and Jocelyn has described roasting at work as therapeutic—"If I get stressed out or if something goes haywire, sometimes I just come in here and I bang out a batch," she said. "The smell, everything about it: I feel better"—but if the coffee side of their business takes off, they said they would consider buying a roaster and taking it to Stanley.
"This works really well right now, but if we go into full production, that's not the best situation for [Windermere]," Doug said. "We're going to get our roaster and also get our own beans. I keep reading about the advantage of roasting at elevation, and I want to get up there and do it."
The Plasses are new to roasting, but they're old hands in Stanley. They initially landed in the mountain town in 2006 after Jocelyn's younger brother, who was a counselor at Luther Heights Bible Camp, died while climbing near Redfish Lake. At the time, the Plasses lived in California, but they left to join the search for his body, which took a year, and by the summer of 2007 they had begun to forge a lasting connection to the Stanley area. A year later, they moved to Seattle, Washington, but by 2010, they hopped back to the Gem State.
"Really, Idaho was calling to us. We moved back to Stanley," Doug said.
Once there, they opened The Redd, a boutique eatery in an otherwise steak-and-potatoes town, where Doug made everything from scratch. They eventually shuttered that venture, and they started splitting their time between Boise and Stanley as Jocelyn had begun working in real estate and they felt more comfortable having their two children educated in the City of Trees.
Redd Square is different from its predecessor in many ways, but Jocelyn said her husband still makes "Doug food" the way he always has. Doug's kitchen training has strong themes of Greek and Italian cooking, and though their current venture serves more pub food, he continues to put curry in the chicken salad, serve items with a side of rice pilaf and otherwise level-up seemingly ordinary foods.
Their business partner at Redd Square is Doc Savage, who studied biology at the University of California-Davis with Doug, and their passion for nature, and particularly fish, is the source of The Redd's name and a pronounced theme at the restaurant.
"We were playing BBC's Planet Earth up on the TV instead of sports," Doug said. "There have been times when eight people were bellied up to the bar and they were all snowmobilers, and they're all watching the penguins and are having discussions about whatever animal group is on the TV."
Odds are, they had cups of coffee in front of them, and even though it may be some time before Boiseans can get their hands on Redd Square beans, the Plasses said it will be worth the wait.
"We make as much as we can ourselves," Jocelyn said. "This tips it over the edge. The coffee is so good."