Telemetry: Innovation in Pursuit of Perfection

Taylor Minor

Taylor Minor is the owner of Telemetry Coffee Roasters, previously known as Stony Creek.  He has owned the business for eight years and outlines his vision for the future as well as the multiple reasons behind the name change.  He also explains his reasoning for closing Neapolitan, an ice-cream shop adjacent to Telemetry, and turning it into a $40,000 laboratory.  Minor is a fascinating, seemingly intelligent and quirky individual who compared himself to a nutty professor.

After reviewing market research and potential paths for expansion, Minor decided a name change from Stony Creek to Telemetry was necessary.  He said, because there was already a well-established coffee shop called Stone Creek Coffee in Wisconsin, any future dreams of expansion into other markets would be extremely difficult.  He said that if he stays in business long enough, naturally he would pursue expansion, particularly Amazon in the short run; “Amazon is a huge merchant, selling products there just makes sense.”  He planned to sell his coffee on earlier this year but was postponed as he pursued another avenue for potential profit.

Minor was looking for an identity or an idea to get inspiration from and derived that inspiration from Ohio’s early 1900’s Barn Gang.  The Barn Gang, established by Colonel Edward Deeds, consisted of inventors and engineers who met in a barn on Deeds’ property to discuss scientific and technological issues.  Famous members of the Barn Gang included Charles Kettering, John Patterson, and the Wright brothers; the group eventually developed into the Engineers Club of Dayton.

“Here in Ohio we’re a little bit different than east coast, west coast; we’re not as big into the flare but we’re also not hay seats.  I think of it as a blue-collar intellectualism” Minor said.

Dayton has an exceedingly rich history in aerospace innovation following the Barn Gang.

Minor said, “The word Telemetry has aerospace history.”

Minor is a member of Mensa and refers to himself as a nerd, he also served as a machine gunner in the Marine Corps in 2004.

He said, “Another opportunity the name change kind of gave was to kind of retool the business around my own personality.”

He feels that by bringing the business closer to who he is, he feels it strengthens the store through his personal fortes and sentiments.

“I thought university students would have the easiest time with the change, but it turns out they were some of the ones that were most unhappy with it,” said Minor.

Telemetry, located in downtown Cedarville, gets a large portion of its clientele from university students.  Robbie Squire, a sophomore at Cedarville University, said; “Telemetry does not roll off the tongue very well, especially when you’ve got lots of caffeine in you.”

Minor said he did not notice a decline in profitability since the name change.  The business rebranding was more of a one or two-degree pivot, “You make a small course correction and then you amplify that course correction over time and you get a large change,” said Minor.

Minor’s decision to close Neapolitan didn’t hinge on profitability but rather a desire to spend more time focusing on improving Telemetry, which eventually led to the installation of a new water filtration system and various other improvements.

If the average business has a 20 percent chance of succeeding, he reflected that by owning two businesses, Neapolitan and Telemetry, those chances of success drop even lower as his time and passion would be split in efforts to cater to the individual needs of each business saying, “It’s detrimental to both.”  People told him he would not be able manage two stores and he feared that by closing Neapolitan people would think he couldn’t.

Minor said, “What I didn’t want to do was have my pride get in the way of making good business decisions.”

Minor loves science and technology and demonstrates great fluency on such topics.  This love for innovation led him to turn the old Neapolitan storefront into a laboratory containing roughly $40,000 worth of microscopes, testing meters, and any equipment deemed necessary to his pursuit of better coffee.

Displayed on a wall adjacent the laboratory sits Minor’s new water filtration system, which he designed himself.  The purpose of the filtration system is to customize tap water to a more desired state, which will allow for better tasting coffee at Telemetry.  He wants to ensure his customers have good water and subsequently good coffee.  Most filters make water that is unsafe to drink, safe to drink but with coffee it is more than that.  There is a science and standards when it comes to water such as alkalinity, the amount of dissolved solids, calcium content etc.  Water is an excellent solvent with negatively charged ions that cause it to grab onto other things.  Trace amounts of Calcium and Magnesium are usually found in most water and different ratios of each create a different taste in the coffee.    Minor wants his water to be conducive for creating coffee and achieves this end by controlling the amount of total dissolved solids in the water.

His new water filtration system removes a certain amount of dissolved solids to attain the “perfect flavor of coffee.”  In the filter system water flows through a pre-filter, a softener that then softens the water, a 15 micron filter, then a filter to remove Chlorine and Fluorine, and then water goes through a reverse osmosis system that takes the total dissolved solids from around 400 to about 8.  According to Minor eight is too clean saying, “Water that is too clean will actually leach metal out of the copper boiler.”  So he then mixes the reverse osmosis water with filtered non-reverse osmosis water via a blending valve.  The resulting water contains about 100 total dissolved solids half being Calcium and the other half being Magnesium, which is stored in two 20-gallon storage tanks.

Minor invented a product, called Third Wave Water, which allows users to brew their coffee with tested and standardized water.

“They’re demineralization capsules that you add to a gallon of distilled water or reverse osmosis water and that mineralizes it to the perfect level for coffee,” Minor said. “That idea was able to be realized because I turned the ice-cream shop into a functioning laboratory.”

Third Wave Water is a company Minor is launching at a Barista Guild of America event in Chicago on the weekend of October 29th and 30th.  The idea for the company derived from a conversation this past summer related to his water filtration system.  The company will be selling capsules containing measured amounts of Calcium, Magnesium and Sodium in packs of ten that can be added to a gallon of distilled or reverse osmosis water, which has no or single digit total dissolved solids and the capsules will create ideal water at around 120-150 total dissolved solids for home use to make better tasting coffee.

Another benefit of the capsules is that “You can duplicate taste from location to location,” said Minor.  The distilled water provides a base for all users and from there the users add their Third Wave Water tablets to alter the water content.  “In the coffee industry there are a lot of people who take their coffee very seriously,” said Minor.  Third Wave Water is a play on the saying Third Wave Coffee, which refers to a movement by coffee enthusiasts to make coffee more of an art form and to pursue the highest quality.

The reason Minor does not use his new patent-pending invention at Telemetry is because coffee shops need a large quantity of water while home users need relatively small amounts.  The product is practical for home users who cannot afford fancy filtration equipment or meters that test the amount of total dissolved solids in their water, “It can be expensive to figure out what’s in your water and to tailor a specific filtration technique to then get that to where it needs to be,” said Minor.  Coffee drinkers that are unsure of the mineral content in their tap water and the effects it has on their coffee taste can buy Third Wave Water tablets to ensure that they have a consistent and proven base. Customers should see the product for sale in Telemetry by early November.  Minor encourages students to come down, talk with him, and have a look at the lab.

Gabe Chester is a junion global biness and marketing major and off-campus reporter for Cedars. He loves music, sports, school and God.

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