When people tell me they only like their coffee with cream and/or sugar, I tell them to try one of these roasters.
Want to feel extra warm and fuzzy when sipping on that morning cup of coffee? A new roaster in southwestern Connecticut with a charitable mission might have your new brew.
Samaritan Coffee Roasters of the Good Samaritan Mission is a nonprofit focused on serving youth, homeless, and at-risk populations in and around Danbury. In addition to housing 10-15 men on a regular basis, the faith-based mission, under the direction of Mark Grasso, offers a work therapy program that teaches men valuable skills to get back into the labor force. The newest addition to skills-based programs is a small coffee roastery that four to five residents participate in at a time, twice a week.
The residents attend traditional therapy sessions and assist with day-to-day maintenance jobs around the mission’s shelter, including plumbing and painting. Then, for residents who are interested, the mission walks them through each step of the coffee-roasting business. After Grasso himself trained for several months at Mill City Roasters in Minneapolis, he brought back the tools to create the small roastery program in Danbury. He learned about beans and all aspects of the roasting process, from operating the equipment, to understanding the timing and temperature needed to produce various blends of coffee.
The idea behind the program is that residents not only spend a few months to a year learning a new skill, but they come out of the program with the tools to get a long-term job or even run their own business. “Some of the men really spark a passion for every step of the process, and they gain skills not just for the coffee business, but expand skill sets for all sorts of jobs,” Grasso says.
To source their beans, Good Samaritan Mission works with Volcafe Way, an organization that partners with coffee farmers around the world on sustainable farming and business practices. For now, Samaritan Coffee Roasters is small, selling their mild, medium, bold and decaf roasts online and at a few select bookstores or cafes. They are in talks with Rumors Coffeehouse in Danbury about creating a special, custom blend. The goal is to be in more shops and continue experimenting with types of blends and roasts by the fall. | Kristin L. Wolfe |