STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 4, Number 2

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68 STiR tea & coffee industry international / Issue 2, 2015 (April/May) T First Roaster When is the right time for a coffee chain to roast its own? The roastery is equipped with package filling equip- ment. Head roaster Shea Hagan affixes stickers to bags bound for Haggen Foods in Bellingham, Wash. Photos by Peggy Watt By Peggy Watt Wes Herman with his first roaster at The Woods roastery, Bellingham, Wash. his is the lucky 13th year of business for The Woods Coffee, based in Northwest Wash- ington State. The family business hit a number of milestones in 2014, notably venturing beyond its 15 Whatcom County to open its first of two shops in adjacent Skagit County. But the biggest advance brought new flavor to The Woods: the company began roasting its own beans. With that step came new blends, new training for all employees, and greater control over its products and destiny. Business sense guided each step, noted Wes Herman, founder and president. "Our goal in building the chain was to make money with a low price point entry for us as an investment, with the understanding that we would add in the components that would cost money as we went along." He wanted to make sure The Woods was ready for an estimated half-million-dollar investment in a roastery. Despite all his planning, Herman acknowledges "good luck" kept the process smooth. The Woods laid the foundation for the roastery when it opened its own bakery in 2010. "The food component in a coffee shop is really difficult, because it's not made to order. It's never profitable unless you can make your own product," Herman said. He considered building a roastery then but decided a bakery presented fewer technical issues and would be easier to staff. The bakery occupies part of the building that houses company headquarters in Lynden, Wash.; about 1,400 square feet was reserved for the future roastery. Once the bakery was operating The Woods set up a distribution warehouse nearby to consolidate deliveries. "We took what had been supplied to us by multiple vendors and housed all that in one place," Herman said. "It was really an evolution of putting our arms around everything we do and taking complete control."Previously, four different deliveries went to each store daily, supplying baked goods, coffee, syrups, paper goods and janitorial supplies. Today – with the roaster in operation – deliveries are consolidated and typically done by a single The Woods truck once daily per store. "Once we had conquered the bakery, we said, 'OK, we're ready to take on the roaster'," Her- man said. A year of preparation followed. Herman and his son, Taylor Herman, who supervises construction operations, began examining equipment and studying the art of coffee roasting. They wanted to identify the best equipment and learn how best to obtain their beans, so they took courses from the Roasters Guild of America.

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