History - Tahoe Love for Coffee Roasting

In 1988, while on a rainy day trek in the Rohrmoos Tal, near Schladming, Austria, founder and Roastmaster, Christian Waskiewicz, was inspired with the vision to create Alpen Sierra Coffee Company in Lake Tahoe. Having spent much of his life in the Alps of Europe and the Sierra Nevada of California, Christian's pursuit of the good life has become the foundation of Alpen Sierra's goal of providing a quality experience through the enjoyment of excellent coffee, tea and chocolate.

Serving its first cup of coffee in an historical log cabin on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe in 1991, Alpen Sierra has grown to become recognized as the premier craft roaster of specialty coffees in the Sierra Nevada. Locals and visitors enjoy Alpen Sierra Mountain Roasted coffees at home, in many coffeehouses and specialty food establishments throughout the world.

As Alpen Sierra has grown and experienced all facets of the specialty coffee industry, most notably the environments in which the coffee farming families live at origin, it became apparent that to be passionately and actively involved in the future of the industry, they would have to put their money where their hearts are. Alpen Sierra embraced the concept and practices of sustainability as they entered the new millennium. In the year 2002 Alpen Sierra was one of the first specialty micro-roasters in Northern California to become certified organic under the USDA's newly launched National Organic Program. Alpen Sierra seeks to source as much coffee direct from small growers, i.e. Direct-Trade, guaranteeing as much as possible, the conscientious and responsible functioning of the supply chain in maintaining a healthy and prosperous balance of social, environmental and economic capital.

Alpen Sierra has received many accolades over the years, which include:

  • Several top rating scores from Kenneth Davids at The Coffee Review 
  • Specialty Coffee Association of America's TOPS Retailer award 
  • Skiing Magazine's Best of 2000 Coffee Bar 
  • City of South Lake Tahoe Best Interior Remodel for both Alpen Sierra designed coffeehouses, 1994 and 1998 
  • Tahoe Tribune Reader's Poll Best of Tahoe Coffee, 1996-2002
  • Three and two star awards, 2010 and 2011, The Guild of Fine Foods, UK

As the alpine economy climate of Lake Tahoe realized severe changes in 2007, Alpen Sierra decided it was time for a change. Alpen Sierra Coffee Roasting Company relocated to a new and larger roasting facility in the Carson Valley of Northern Nevada.

We welcome all visitors Monday through Friday to visit us at our roasting plant for a tour and to purchase all of our coffee, tea and chocolate products on site.

Alpen Sierra's Roasting Technique

Any roasting technique must begin with a thorough understanding of the chemistry of coffee. At Alpen Sierra we have made it one of our top priorities to understand the intricate make-up of the coffee bean, which contains over 1,250 chemical compounds! Knowledge and control of the varying effects that the roasting environment can have upon key chemical constituents in the coffee bean and their relative conversions and modifications through the application of heat in order to obtain a full-flavored, sweet and smooth cup is paramount to creating a great product. Combining this technical knowledge with the creative "art" of roasting and blending, inspired by good, healthy mountain living, allows us at Alpen Sierra Coffee Roasting Company to offer you excellent coffees for your daily cup.

Our daily roasting technique includes:

  • Measurement of density altitude (the effect of ambient air temperature and barometric pressure on the energy within the flame).
  • Accurate and consistent batch weight portioning (based upon density altitude measurements).
  • A proper balance of convective and radiant heat in the system for optimum chemical conversions and flavor development.
  • Programming digital controller to monitor ceiling temperature (avoiding high roasting temperatures and overly-rapid development).
  • Digitally monitoring environment temperature for bean density equilibrium, proper chemical conversion ratios and target roast values.
  • Roasting times varying between 12 and 16 minutes, depending upon coffees' densities.
  • Rapid air cooling directly following roasting. No water quenching.
  • Proper storage in sealed containers and valve-lock bags.