Roasting Columbus

John Ross, Columbus Alive

Walk by a boutique coffee roaster, and you'll know it immediately.

No one can mistake the hearty, earthy smells that waft into the street as a roaster transforms green beans into art and global crops into local treasures.

Columbus loves its coffee. More than ever, though, its brew is being prepared locally in small batches by indie roasters who control recipes and wrest optimal flavor from top-quality raw goods.

During the past several years, local roasters like Stauf's, Cup o' Joe and Cafe Brioso have been joined by a wave of newcomers who are showing even more java drinkers what they're missing at their go-to chain.

Small coffee operations are peppered through the Short North, Downtown, Olde Towne East and Grandview. They differ in approach, distribution and even favorite beans, yet each has put a stamp on the local roast scene. Many of these roasters will convene March 31 for the North Market Coffee Roast, a great chance to sip from the local scene.

The four featured in this section show the diversity driving Columbus coffee.

Micael Habte, who's from eastern Africa, spent a lifetime around coffee before opening Upper Cup Coffee Co. Roasting part-time in his garage, Jason Valentine has been turning heads with Thunderkiss Coffee.

Nestled in a Trek store, Chris Bishop operates Backroom Coffee Roasters and sends out blends by bike. The guys behind Mission Coffee Co. will showcase the drink's sexier side when they open in the Short North later this month.

Here's more about the trend that's making Columbus perk up.

North Market Coffee Roast

9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, March 31

59 Spruce St., Arena District