He may have shown you around our Roasterie factory on one of our tours. Or you may have seen him cupping some of the world’s best coffee. Or maybe you’ve never seen him at all, since he prefers to work behind-the-scenes at The Roasterie. But if it wasn’t for our Master Roaster Noman Killmon, who knows if there’d be any Roasterie at all?
Although The Roasterie became an official, incorporated company on Nov. 4, 1993, it was still just the Bean Baron Danny O’Neill working to produce the world’s best coffee. It wasn’t until March 6, 1994 that Stormin’ Norman Killmon joined the team because of his passion for coffee and belief in Danny’s dream.
“I have been in coffee for a long time,” Norman said. “The company I used to work for had started to buy worse and worse coffee and not care about the people that grow it. That was a real turn off for me. But The Roasterie decided to buy the best coffees and treat the people who produced it fairly, so I was really excited to join The Roasterie. That’s what brought me here and why I stay. It was such an easy decision.”
While in the beginning it may have just been Norman and Danny working night and day to roast the world’s best coffee, now The Roasterie has become a vital part of the Kansas City community. Over the past 20 years, The Roasterie has grown to include a bigger factory, an event space, three Roasterie cafés and a licensed coffee shop.
And it’s clear that the relationship between Norman and Danny is a special one that only two true coffee lovers could brew. Proof of this bond can be seen when Danny revealed a 1937 John Deere tractor during The Roasterie ’s 20th Anniversary party.
But this wasn’t just any tractor. It had originally belonged to Norman’s father who had lovingly brought it back up to snuff. Unfortunately, after Norman’s father had passed away, the tractor had fallen into disrepair. Yet Norman wasn’t ready to give up on the green beauty, so he convinced his mother to sell it to him. That’s when Danny found out about the tractor.
“A couple of years ago, Danny found about the tractor,” Norman said. “It had belonged to my father, but the tires had gone flat and the birds were doing what they wanted with it.”
So Danny had insisted on having it restored, but Norman had no idea when that would be completed – until the big reveal at the 20th Anniversary party.
“I was totally surprised,” Norman said. “But I was just a shade put out because the party was supposed to be a celebration of the company, but the tractor kind of upstaged everything. But Danny is just so benevolent. Danny cares more about the people he works with than anything.”
Despite Norman preferring to stay out of the spotlight, the restoration of that 1937 John Deere tractor means more than most would think.
“It probably means 10 times more to me than anyone else,” Norman said. “To me, it represents farming of all kinds, American ingenuity and the American spirit. It tells the story of where we came from as a country.”
It’s no wonder Norman is a proud member of The Roasterie team. It’s always been about more than just coffee. It’s been about making magic.
“I’m especially proud of our growth,” Norman said. “We started in Danny’s basement and there was basically no business. But then we moved to 1519 Cherry Street, and then we kept outgrowing our space. It didn’t surprise me though because Danny is so driven. To be a part of this has been magic.”