what east alstead roasting company is about
I grew up in East Alstead, a small town in southwestern New Hampshire nestled within a wider community of creative and kind people. I have over a decade of experience working with food or drink of some kind. I've worked with L.A. Burdick Chocolate to support cacao growers in Grenada. I spent a year in Europe as a brewing apprentice, working with De Struise Brouwers in Belgium, Brasserie Thiriez in France, Thornbridge Brewery in England, and BrewDog in Scotland. When I returned to the states I joined Hill Farmstead Brewery as an assistant, and later in life moved to Washington, D.C. to share head brewing duties at Bluejacket Brewery. My truest love, though, is coffee. I cut my teeth at Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco, one of the city's (and arguably the West Coast's) most revered roasters. While the ownership of Four Barrel at that time was problematic, the company attracted some of the most talented baristas, roasters, and trainers and shaped my path in the industry. (Four Barrel has evolved beyond its history and continues to produce superb coffee.) After moving to D.C. I was fortunate to find a job at one of the city's best cafes, A Baked Joint, where weekends were a nonstop blur of pulling espresso shots. As a multi-roaster cafe, A Baked Joint allowed me to explore coffees from roasters all around the country. In December I moved back to East Alstead, feeling burnt out of city life and seeking to build a sustainable future within the community that raised me. As the pandemic hit and I lost work, I decided to lean into the dream of starting a roasting business to serve both friends from around the country and the locals who may not have experienced nuanced, complex, specialty coffee.
why I'm doing this
My goal is to offer a new realm of coffee experience for the community/area I grew up in and to be able to provide coffee to people and places I’ve loved. To that end, I hope to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible, be able to exercise my creativity, and support myself and future staff as best I can. As far as business goes, I don’t believe I have a capitalist instinct: I’m not a natural salesman and I don’t worship unexamined perennial growth. However, I’m still intertwined with and dependent on the social structures into which I was born so ultimately I need to make a living. I recognize I was born with many systemic advantages which have allowed me to live a relatively comfortable life. I’ve also struggled with some disadvantages which have made thriving difficult. Introversion, chronic depression, and social and existential anxiety seem to have dictated a lot of my thought patterns. The East Alstead Roasting Co. project is an attempt to redirect this narrative while hopefully giving others a bit of joy. I can combine the desires to provide something delicious (for a small fee!) to all sorts of people, to support myself, to express myself, and to keep my mind and hands active. I may not be the most technical, ambitious, or competitive roasting company out there but that’s not what I’m aiming for. I just want to give people a little taste of how good coffee can be.
My focus is the here and now. I can’t help but dream sometimes, though, so I'll share some thoughts in case you’re curious how I might grow and what that would look like. Eventually I’d like to open a cafe somewhere here in southwestern New Hampshire or across the Connecticut River in southeastern Vermont. If things go well enough I’d like to consider finding a charitable outlet for a portion of our income, focusing on issues of environmental sustainability, mental health, and social justice. B Corporation certification might become a goal, eventually. Of course, we're in extremely unpredictable and unstable times, and all of this dreaming may be for nought. Until the world hopefully regains its balance, I'll be taking it a day at a time.
After almost a decade of living in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. I decided to move back to New Hampshire to be closer to family. Two months later the coronavirus pandemic began to spread to the US. I lost one job, had another severely reduced, and elected not to continue another in order to reduce the chances of catching and passing it on to my family members. At home with little to do and nearly no income, I started spending more and more time doing what I really enjoyed: roasting coffee. I invested in forty pounds of green coffee from Sweet Maria’s in Oakland, CA and started roasting and shipping bags to family and friends. With encouragement, I decided to start branding and selling. I would encourage customers to let their newly delivered coffee to sit for a day or two, both to reduce the chance of virus contact and because coffee needs to rest for several days after it's roasted. Roasting produces carbon dioxide and some is left in the structural matrix of the bean; letting it de-gas allows for a better extraction during brewing and a more balanced flavor profile.
So here we are today, one person with an urge to find validation via his delicious hot seed broth and a reader with an addiction to assuage and hopefully an inclination to endorse whatever this roasting company is about.