We were pleased to speak recently with Andrea Franklin, co-owner (along with spouse Chelsea Lynes) of Upper Valley Coffee Roasters in Newbury, VT. Upper Valley Coffee Roasters is a small batch roastery offering single origin, specialty grade coffees from around the world. You can contact them at 802-449-2759, by email at andrea@uppervalleycoffeeroasters.com or visit them online at www.uppervalleycoffeeroasters.com.

Where did the idea to start a coffee roasting company in rural Vermont come from?
It stems from living in San Francisco and have some great cafes and roasteries nearby with fresh roasted coffee. When we moved here, we explored the cafes and restaurants but no one locally was roasting coffee. We later found out there were some roasters in the Norwich area, but without commuting to that area regularly it was impractical for us to get there often. After some research we learned that to brew the best coffee you really need to start with high quality beans, attentive roasting and to enjoy the beans fresh from the roaster. We hatched the idea that maybe we should roast coffee, and ensure that we were sourcing green coffees from reputable farms and growers. We started thinking we would buy a used roaster but then decided under the guidance of our family of metal fabricators we would design and build our own. We felt like the individual components were pretty simple and the challenge really was just syncing everything together. We started building the components for our drum roaster in 2015 and by the following year we had finished building the roaster and were roasting our coffee. The Bliss Village Store and My Farmers Market were our first accounts.

What precipitated the move from San Francisco? 
San Francisco was booming and we didn’t work in the tech field so we were kind of priced out of the housing market because of it. We were living “full-house” style by the beach with a bunch of friends. It was fun but everyone was getting ready to make their move outside the city.  We ended up moving to the Upper Valley to be closer to my family, and take a break from city life.

Can you tell us a little about what types of coffee you offer and what your favorites are?
All of our coffees are specialty grade, 100% arabica. Our current offerings are always changing, but we try to keep a couple options from each growing region; Central America, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Coffees are often compared to wine, in that soil type, annual rainfall and other environmental factors play a role in the development of the fruit, or in this case the coffee cherry. We source from small family farms and cooperatives and try to choose Fair Trade and Organic when we can, but it’s not always an option due to seasonal availability and price points.   As for my favorite, I would have to say the Peru medium roast combined with one of our dark roasts. Personally, I am having fun experimenting with blending coffees, and we have some recipes in the works for cold brew and drip that we’ll be packaging for retail in the near future.

Can people buy coffee directly at your facility and/or where can they find your coffee?
We are open by appointment only, but this is primarily reserved for vendors to learn more about the roasting process, our coffees and brewing techniques. Our roastery operates as a home based business, so we try to minimize sales onsite, and encourage coffee lovers to purchase at a local retailer or from our website. Seasonally, it can be found in farm stands such as Pierson Farm, 4 Corners Farm and Crossmolina Farm, who featured our coffee as part of their CSA. Year round, you can find it at Bliss Village Store in Bradford, Newbury Village Store in Newbury, My Farmers Market in Groton, Hatchland Farm in North Haverhill and the new Gather Together Café in Woodsville. We have also begun popping up to brew at our local community events and many may have had the chance to grab a cup from AK Chix Coffee in Fairlee before closing for the season.

Do you have any employees and is this a full-time venture for you?
Right now, I commit a couple days a week to roasting, packaging and filling orders and fill the rest of my time working for my parents at Vermont Country Iron in Bradford. This isn’t full time for us yet but we’ve seen an increase in time spent roasting, enough to set dedicated work hours! We are in the process of scaling up our business and upgrading our roaster and retiring our current roaster to serve as a backup. Over the next year, we will be working to dress up our packaging a bit and will be outfitting a 1961 Hostess Delivery van as a deluxe espresso bar and roving coffee stop.