The only specialty coffee roaster in a town called "The Next Napa" for its vibrant wine-producing culture, Gold Country Roasters's current iteration had a rocky start but promises increasing success. "I was a victim of the recession," says Lisa Schwartz, owner, and formerly an environmental planner, "not a lifelong dreamer of opening a coffeehouse." Purchasing Gold Country Roasters in Murphys, California, was "crazy, random, and serendipitous" for this coffee lover, but it wasn't an easy journey.
The plan was to start small in the current space, roasting on the old Probat roaster housed there. But midway through escrow, Lisa and her team ran into challenges--not the least of which was that the Probat didn't meet regulations, and they couldn't move it. Suddenly, they needed a roaster. "We initially called Bill Kennedy to evaluate our old Probat," says Lisa, "and he was hugely helpful. Then when we decided to buy a San Franciscan, he helped us find an awesome refurbed SF25, that was originally at Carmel Valley Coffee. He and the team arrived two days before our opening and Roxy (our roaster) was installed just in time for opening."
At first Lisa's former business partner's husband, who had apprenticed with the first Gold Country Roasters owner, roasted coffee for the growing business. Soon, though, Tonja Peterson joined the team for a crash coarse in roasting and a joyful assumption of the roaster's post. She says, "I’d never done it before, but when the opportunity came up, I was ready. I thought: it’s scientific, it’s artistic, it's intiuitve, and I thought I could do a good job at it."
Tonja went through the Boot Coffee School roaster training, and then drove through what turned out to be the biggest snow storm of the year to spend a few days with Bill and Matt roasting coffee at The San Franciscan Roaster Co. She and the Gold Country team focus on sourcing responsibly for the environment, which--ironically enough--ties into Lisa's first career.
The community of Murphys is close-knit and embraced Lisa and her team immediately. "As soon as we opened the door, even as inexperienced as we were, people cut us a lot of slack. It worked out great, because it turned out we had good instincts for business even though we lacked actual experience. We started out with no employees, just 70-hour weeks, and 3 months later hired our first employee. He's still with us, but now we have 12 employees. Business has just exploded."
Two years down, many to come: congrats to Gold Country Roasters and best wishes for the future! We're honored to be the chosen roaster manufacturer for such great people.