By Michael Illiano
The Sheridan Press
Craft coffee roasting companies have quietly proliferated in Sheridan in recent years, a trend that roasters hope will create a new culture surrounding coffee in Sheridan.
Matt Egging, who owns Manchester Street Coffee, is a self-taught roaster who hopes to use his company to pass along some of the knowledge he’s gathered.
Egging started roasting coffee after seeing a YouTube video where someone was roasting coffee with an air popcorn popper. He had the same popper and decided to emulate the video in his kitchen.
“It smoked the house up something fierce, set the fire alarms off,” Egging said. “I got kicked out — my wife said ‘You can’t do that in here ever again.’”
Despite the mess it made, Egging said the first batch of beans he roasted tasted better than any coffee he’d ever had. He was hooked.
After moving his operation into the garage, he started roasting regularly and sharing his results with anyone who expressed interest.
Though he has upgraded his operations — he uses a much larger roaster and recently opened a shop in town — his model hasn’t changed all that much.
Egging isn’t interested in just selling his customers coffee. He hopes to use his business to share his passion for coffee roasting and cultivate a similar passion in his patrons through education.
For instance, during the grand opening of his new shop, Egging awarded special tastings to patrons who won drawings, which will enable them to bring a group of friends to his shop and work with him to roast a batch of coffee to fit their preferences.
As his business continues to grow, Egging hopes to develop similar events and encourage his customers to collaborate with him, in the hopes that they will develop a new appreciation for his coffee in the process.
“I’m a teacher by trade, I taught English for 10 years, and I like talking to people more than I like roasting coffee in a vacuum,” Egging said.
Travis Fack, who runs Black Mountain Coffee, said though Egging’s efforts represent competition, they are also working toward creating more understanding about coffee roasting locally, which will benefit everyone involved in the craft.
Like Egging, Fack initially took up roasting as a hobby. He started roasting his own coffee with a small roaster he got for Christmas that could roast about an eighth of a pound at a time. After experimenting with that roaster, and learning the ins and outs of coffee roasting through trial and error, Fack found he was roasting two or three times a week just to support his own coffee habit. While researching larger roasters, he found that the skills he’d learned on his starter-roaster would readily translate to machines with much more capacity.
“That kind of spurred the thought that maybe I can make this into kind of a side business,” Fack said.
He upgraded to a roaster capable of roasting roughly 6 pounds of coffee in 15 minutes, which serves his business well.
Because Fack has a full-time job — and is responsible for every aspect of Black Mountain Coffee’s operations, from roasting to packaging — his business model largely centers around whole-selling coffee to local businesses.
Fack, a Sheridan native, said he developed most of his business relationships through people he already knew in town but noticed a lack of understanding about coffee roasting and the benefits of craft-roasted coffee in the community.
“Doing things in small batches is always going to cost a little more, and I think there is a little bit of people needing to get past the sticker shock sometimes,” Fack said. “But I think once people realize the quality, the freshness, most of the time people are willing to pay it.”
New businesses like Egging’s popping up could help correct that, Fack said.
“It’s similar to the craft beer scene — the more craft breweries there are, there’s more hype about it and people think more about it,” Fack said. “At least that’s the hope.”
Egging also said he welcomes more competition.
“I want to be friends with all of the coffee roasters,” Egging said. “I want to do collaboration roasts with all of the coffee roasters. I want to be competitive because I think competition drives quality, but I want to try and be a friendly rival with people.”
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