Marietta welcomes craft coffee

Photo by Michael Kelly Server Allison Constable pours a fresh cup of coffee for Cristi Szabo-Wichert, a customer at the Busy Bee Restaurant. The cafe brews its coffee from craft-roasted beans supplied by Broaster’s Coffee, a Marietta operation run by 12-year-old entrepreneur Ashton Newland.

MARIETTA — For two craft coffee roasters in the Marietta area, it started with the pursuit of a great cup of joe.

After he and his family moved to Marietta from Colorado, Andrew Newland searched the city’s food establishments in vain for a cup of coffee he really liked. He began experimenting with roasting his own beans using an improvised rig he set up in his backyard.

“I started with a wok and a camp stove,” he said. “I love good coffee, and roasting your own beans makes it infinitely better.”

Ashton Newland got into the craft because he wanted an income.

“My son came up to me one day and said, ‘Dad, I need to make some money,'” Andrew recalled. He thought it would be a good chance to teach the 12-year-old some principles of economics. That was a year ago.

Photo by Michael Kelly Ashton Newland sells a bag of craft-roasted coffee beans to a customer at the River City Farmers Market on a November weekend. Newland started roasting beans to sell about a year ago and is a regular vendor at the market.

Now, Ashton is the coffee supplier for the Busy Bee Restaurant in Harmar and sells craft roasted beans and ground coffee every Saturday morning at the River City Farmers Market. He gets his beans through a website called Sweet Maria, Andrew said, which uses sustainable coffee from family operations.

The beans arrive in 50-pound sacks, and Ashton roasts them a few nights a week.

“I open the bags in my room, measure the beans and put them in a drum roaster,” he said. The roasted beans are then poured across an air current in front of a fan to blow away the chaff, then while they’re cooling he prints out labels with the time and date the coffee was bagged and the weight,

On a chilly November Saturday morning at his outdoor stall at the farmers market, he demonstrates the digital tare scale he uses, which subtracts the weight of the bag itself before he adds the beans. As a customer walks away with a bag of his coffee, he says he’s not sure how much longer he’ll continue selling at the farmers market but he’s certain he’ll continue supplying the Busy Bee and marketing his product through the Broaster’s Coffee page on Facebook.

Across the Muskingum River at the Busy Bee, server Allison Constable on Friday poured another cup of Broaster’s for a customer, Cristi Szabo-Wichert, who was visiting Marietta from Wisconsin, during a busy morning at the restaurant.

Constable, who has been working at the cafe for two years, said the coffee is popular with customers.

“They love it,” she said. “It’s a smooth, light roast.”

Donna Kennedy of Marietta , who was sitting with Szabo-Wichert, said the coffee is “something special.”

Reflecting at his farmers market stand Saturday, Ashton Newland said he’s banking the profits.

“I don’t really care about toys,” he said. “I like saving.”

Advice for other young entrepreneurs? Persistence and discipline.

“Lots of times, I don’t feel like doing it,” he said. “You just have to keep up with it.”

On the other side of the Ohio, Chad Winebrenner takes a more scientific approach. The chef at Grand Pointe Conference and Reception Center in Vienna, Winebrenner has a fierce appetite for the best coffee.

“I drink copious amounts of it,” he said.

When he moved from Columbus to Marietta three years ago to take over the Grand Pointe kitchen, a friend he met offered him a small roaster.

He eventually bought a commercial roaster and set it up in his garage.

“It was just something fun to do. I can get really geeky with it, and it appealed to the control freak in me as a chef,” he said.

Coffee roasting as Winebrenner approaches it, for his craft label Stomp-N-Grounds Coffee, is a complex endeavor. Coffee starts out as a green bean, and roasting is what brings out the flavor. The beans can be roasted from light to dark, and Winebrenner likes to experiment with each batch he receives from broker Genuine Origin, his supplier.

“I run the roast profile until I find what works,” he said. “People get really snobby about wine. There’s about 128 volatile flavors in wine. Coffee has over 1,000.

“There’s so much you can draw out if you know what you’re doing in that profile.”

The commercial, mass-produced ground coffees found in supermarkets usually have been roasted about three months before they hit the shelves, he said. His beans sit for 72 hours after roasting to allow carbon dioxide released by the heat to gas off, then go to the customer.

Places Winebrenner’s coffee is sold include The Cook’s Shop on Front Street in Marietta, and he is supplying coffee for Serenity House in Vienna, and the Boxcar in St. Marys. He plans to expand in the new year.

“Just try the difference,” he said. “I’m stepping out on this, getting people to try it. You get so much more for pennies on the pound.”