×

Two Small-Scale Coffee Roasters Fire Up in Valley

  • Andrea Franklin roasts coffee beans in her garage at her home in Newbury, Vt., on March 17, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Coffee beans change color as they are roasted at Upper Valley Coffee Roasters in Newbury, Vt. on March 17, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Andrea Franklin, left and partner Chelsea Lynes of Upper Valley Coffee Roasters in Newbury, Vt., on March 17, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Andrea Franklin, of Newbury, Vt., looks for beans that may have burned during the roasting process at her home on March 17, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lower real estate prices brought Andrea Franklin, a 2005 Oxbow high graduate, back to the Bradford, Vt., area recently after a stint living and working in San Francisco. But, for her, one thing was missing.

“There wasn’t a lot of craft coffee happening,” said Franklin, a Newbury, Vt., resident, in a recent phone interview.

A true coffee lover, Franklin said her favorite part of the day is enjoying a morning cup.

“If I can’t get a great cup of coffee, it’s tough,” said Franklin, who had grown accustomed to the ample opportunities to sample different brews in the Bay Area.

She set about trying to find a local roaster to satisfy her craving, but came up short. Then, she began researching roasting machines for herself. Rather than spend thousands of dollars, she took her dad, Rich Franklin, who owns Vermont Country Iron, up on his suggestion that they build one.

“We’ve got time,” she recalled him saying. “Let’s make one.”

Working nights and weekends, the Franklins put the roaster together in about a year. Then, last summer, Andrea Franklin and her partner Chelsea Lynes began experimenting with timing and temperatures and, in the fall, they started selling their freshly roasted beans. A finished garage on their Newbury property has become their roastery.

The coffee business they started, Upper Valley Coffee Roasters, is growing slowly. Now, their beans are available at Bliss Village Store and Deli on Main Street in Bradford. Beans will also be available at the seasonal farm stand, My Farmers Market, in South Ryegate when it opens on April 1. They have other accounts ready to go as they have more beans available, Franklin said.

“I’d like us to be the coffee of the Upper Valley and kind of be known for that,” she said.

Despite Franklin’s perception that the Upper Valley is lacking in coffee roasters, her business joins a group of several other small-scale roasters operating in the area. The ranks include Hanover’s Dirt Cowboy Cafe and King’s Row Coffee; Tunbridge’s First Branch Coffee Co., which is set to open a coffee shop in South Royalton this spring, and Randolph-based Carrier Roasting Co.

Monica Alsup, of the Thetford-based Station House Coffee, which has been selling beans since 2014, said the Upper Valley is a good place for a coffee roasting business.

“People in this area I feel are kind of like foodies and really appreciate quality products and are willing to spend a little bit more on food items than in other regions,” Alsup said in a recent phone interview.

There is room for growth within the industry, she said.

“I believe that it’s very much like competition breeds sales,” she said. “The coffee community is very friendly. It doesn’t feel competitive. It feels very supportive.”

Alsup’s adventure in coffee roasting began with interests in cooking and science. She also had some space to work with in a warehouse her husband, A.J., was using for his metal fabrication business. And, A.J. had a bright idea.

“He’s a man of many ideas,” Alsup said of her husband. “He came home and he said, ‘We should roast coffee.’ I was like, ‘Yeah. OK.’ ”

The Alsups met through the automotive marketing field. A.J. Alsup, a Woodstock native, comes from a racing family. His late father, Bill Alsup, was a race car driver. A.J., who also raced cars in the late 1990s and early 2000s, currently works as a driving instructor, Monica Alsup said.

Monica, who has a background in architectural engineering, took a scientific approach to learning the art of coffee roasting. She read books, attended trade shows, took a course from Mane Alves at the Waterbury, Vt.-based Coffee Lab International School of Coffee in 2013 and practiced using a small roaster at home.

Her roasts depend on the bean and its origin. She tries different roasts with each bean to find the best flavors, and she invites friends over for tastings.

“That’s basically how I developed what I liked,” she said.

From there, she learned to replicate the preferred roast, she said.

Dan and Whit’s, in Norwich, was Station House Coffee’s first customer, Alsup said. Now, the coffee can also be found at other small Upper Valley retailers, such as F.H. Gillingham and Sons, in Woodstock; Singleton’s General Store, in Quechee and Proctorsville, Vt.; Coburns’ General Store, in South Strafford; Sharon Trading Post; Thetford Village Store and Stella’s Italian Kitchen and Market, in Lyme.

Alsup hasn’t devoted all of her energies to the coffee business. She’s busy raising two daughters, aged 10 and 2, while A.J. is often traveling. But, as time allows, she plans to continue to expand. One possibility is opening a coffee shop, she said.

“There’s a lack of spaces for people to congregate and be social in a sense other than a restaurant,” she said. “The coffee culture is brewing. It’s not going anywhere.”

Information about both businesses can be found on Facebook and on their websites: uppervalleycoffeeroasters.com and stationhousecoffee.com.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.