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Follow Your Nose: Making Roasty, Toasty Magic at Wheeling Coffee & Spice


On what might be an ordinary, wintry Monday anywhere else in downtown Wheeling, Larry Sprowls is firing up a fan deep inside a building adjacent to Heritage Point. Leather belts whir overhead and, given the motor’s 10,000 revolutions per minute, it sounds like a jet engine. It’s impressive. But, it’s the aroma that follows that verges on magic.

Sprowls – Wheeling Coffee & Spice Co.’s master roaster of a dozen years – hooks a metal chute to the front end of one of three Victorian-era ovens and beans the color of the darkest chocolate rush into a cooling bin set to the floor below.

The air’s so suddenly coffee-saturated it might wake the dead. There’s smoke. There’s a scurry as General Manager Shelly Smedley rakes beans across the bin’s aerated bottom in a race to get them cooled quickly enough so that the oil glistening on their surfaces will sink back into the beans rather than burning off.

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