GAINESVILLE, Texas, U.S. – Gainesville’s newest coffee roaster just became the world’s largest solar powered coffee and cacao roaster. James Combs from Combs’ Coffee started sourcing coffee and tea in Africa in 2013. He started his specialty coffee roasting business out of his house with three solar panels, a charge controller and an Optima battery bank. Over the past eight years he has steadily grown from converting his house to solar, running a commercial roaster in his garage, to moving to a permanent solar powered coffee roastery in Corinth.
His newest project consists of converting an old 8,500 sq. ft. Coca Cola bottling facility off of Scott Street in Gainesville, Texas into the world’s largest solar powered coffee and cacao roasting facility.
The building was retrofitted with 89 solar panels that make over 30 kilowatts of renewable energy. This system runs two custom built Giesen and Diedrich coffee roasters. His sustainability mission doesn’t stop at the power source, though. He also sources his coffee, tea and cacao directly and travels to origin countries on a regular basis.
Both of his facilities were also hand-built using primarily reclaimed materials and everything from their disposable cups, lids and trash bags are biodegradable and compostable. He even offers to purchase back the glass mason jars that he sells his coffee, tea and cold brew in from his customers when they return them.
In addition to the mega roastery, James and his business partner purchased the entire iconic five-acre, 60,000 sq. ft. historical complex located between Broadway and Scott Street.
The complex includes the original 1800s power company, ice house, creamery, flour mill and scale house. They are actively renovating the complex to a local makers market, rooftop bar, six story hotel, food hall, food truck park, car museum, rock climbing gym, coffee shop, coffee school and hydroponic growing operation among many other things.