Coffee aficionados can tell when coffee is good. They know what they like and they will return time and time again for the right blend.
Swift River Roasters in Raymond listens to their customers and creates blends, roasts and flavored coffees based on that feedback. The roasting started five years ago by local couple Linda and Walt Manchester. The beans are mostly sold as whole bean in bags, but some, like the flavored coffees are pre-ground. Customers can also grind their own bags in their flagship store, The Good Life Market on Route 302 in Raymond. Coffee is roasted fresh to order every week, which equal between 200 pounds in the winter to 400 or 500 pounds in the summer.
Ian Ballingall is the head roaster at Swift River Roasters. It’s his job to determine how long to roast the beans, to flavor the beans when needed and to generally keep the coffee flowing through the production and onto the store shelves.
The beans, about 25 pounds at a time, are gas heated as they are roasted for 15 minutes on average. They are then cooled on a cooling tray that blows air up from the bottom while the beans are being stirred. Because of the small batches, Ballingall is able to keep things very consistent with each roast.
The beans come from all over the world. They do fair trade beans from Honduras and Indian Monsoon Malabar beans that are left out during the rainy season. The coffee beans come in on pallets containing 1,300 to 1,500 pounds of beans.
What makes the coffee stand out in flavor? “The quality of the beans we start with and keeping things moving, not having them sit around much,” said Ballingall. “We are very responsive to our customers.” The half café roast was created because of customer requests, he added. Ballingall and the Manchesters do lots of training, read lots of books and then get hands on experience in coffee roasting to make their coffee the best.
Opening the coffee roasters came out of necessity. The Good Life Market was having trouble finding a reputable coffee distributer, so they cut out the middle man and started making their own.
The flavored coffees are also made in the Swift River Roasters production plant. From vanilla and hazelnut to Jamaican Me Crazy, which smells like maple syrup, they have close to 40 varieties ranging from dark to light roasts and decaffeinated blends as well.
This week Swift River Roasters celebrates its fifth anniversary. To celebrate they are putting out a blonde roast. It does not have a name yet, so Linda and Walt have decided to host a contest to name the blonde roast, which is described as lively and fresh with nutty tones.
“We want to get everybody involved,” Linda said. To enter your name in the contest, visit the store. The winner will get one bag of coffee a month for a year. At the store there will also be coffee tastings and small promotions throughout the month of February.
“I always interface with the customers to get direct feedback. We have grown with our customers,” said Ballingall. “We’ve had a very positive response.”
When the company turned two years old, they created an Anniversary Roast, which became such a popular blend, that they kept it. At four years, they created an Italian Roast (dark).
They also create special roasts for private labels to be sold for fundraisers like Project Graduation, or for other organizations. “We design the labels for them,” said Linda.
One of the goals for the company is to have an online presence. They have some wholesale accounts and ship across the country for those who have tried the coffee in the summer and can’t live without it year round.
The quality coffee is competitively priced at $9.99 per pound and can be purchased either at The Good Life Market or at seven area businesses (see ad below for list of dealers).
For more about Swift River Roasters email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at 655-1196. They are also on Facebook.