This is the very last week for Build-Outs season in 2022. But don’t worry—our Build-Outs program will be back in 2023, and we’ve still got some incredible places left to spotlight. Today we’re checking out a coffee company that started out in a shared roasting facility, and now is working on building out their dream facility in North Canaan, Connecticut, just east of the Hudson River on the Massachusetts/Connecticut border. This is Isle Coffee.

The 2022 Build-Outs of Coffee is presented by DriposDona, and Mill City Roasters. The 2022 Build-Outs of Coffee is sponsored by La MarzoccoPacific Barista SeriesAcaia, Cropster, and Marco Beverage Systems.

As told to Sprudge by Lucas Smith.

For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?

We opened in 2019 and are currently a two-person operation focused on roasting specialty coffees out of our new location in North Canaan, CT. We first began roasting in a shared roasting facility in Stamford, which we used to expand our business and eventually purchased our own equipment and took over that lease. Up until recently, our roastery served primarily as a production space for wholesale. We partnered with local businesses and delivered wholesale products domestically and internationally with the long-term goal of opening our own brick-and-mortar shop. We recently moved our facilities to North Canaan where we are now able to create the customer-facing space and community we’ve been dreaming of.

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Can you tell us a bit about the new space?

We couldn’t be more excited about it! Since we inherited our last production facility as is, we were super excited to have the opportunity to build out a new location exactly the way we envisioned. We found an amazing retired mechanics garage in Rebecca’s hometown of North Canaan, CT, which is located in the northwest corner of Connecticut nestled against the Berkshires. The new space has a ton of natural light and enough room and functionality for us to build out our dream cafe and retail shop!

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What’s your approach to coffee?

Our approach is pretty simple and intentional. We focus most of our efforts on sourcing, as we believe that a cup of coffee can only be as good as the raw product it begins with. We focus primarily on fully-washed coffees and really prioritize flavor clarity, varieties, and cleanliness with the coffee that we source. With all that said, we roast on the lighter side. Our goal is to bring out the flavors that exist naturally in every coffee and do our best to not leave too much of our own mark on it. Most of the hard work we feel is done at origin from the amazing producers we buy from, so we do our best to reflect that in our roasting technique by highlighting the uniqueness of each lot.

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Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?

Our Loring S15 is certainly the backbone of our company. As we start to build out the cafe side we will be using a Kees van der Westen Speedster, along with Mahlkönig grinders for filter coffee and espresso.

How is your project considering sustainability?

We’ve learned that sustainability touches nearly every part of running a small business, and each of our processes have become really important to view through that lens as we’ve grown. At the end of the day, we want to operate a sustainable business model and ensure all our partners in our supply chain are committed to doing the same.

With our new property, we’ve used almost entirely reclaimed or recycled materials to build out the existing space and repurpose it into a functional cafe. Once the cafe is open, our plan is to focus on sustainable packaging, a reusable cup program to cut down on single use cups, and also delivering our local wholesale orders in reusable buckets rather than the traditional 5lb bag.

With our sourcing strategy, our goal is to purchase more green coffee from fewer people and to continue purchasing from the same people each year as we grow. Rather than buying small amounts of coffee from a bunch of different lots, we would rather buy as much as we can from one producer. With this approach, the farmers are ultimately able to forecast more accurately. We try to avoid cherry-picking from only the top lots, and instead we focus on producers that are mission-driven and interested in long-term partnerships with us. We’ve seen this approach pay dividends in the quality of the product we receive and the sustainability it provides for the businesses at origin.

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What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?

We have already started to roast in our new space as of August 1st. The cafe side is still a work in progress, and we hope to open by October 1st.

Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?

We have had so much help from our friends and family with this new project! Rebecca’s father is a finishing carpenter and has done an incredible job transforming our space. Close friends Eric and Daniel Tomaino helped install the roaster and did all of the plumbing work in the new space and we honestly wouldn’t have been able to do this move without them.

Thank you!

ILSE coffee is located at 35 Railroad Street, North Canaan. Visit their official website and follow them on Instagram.

The 2022 Build-Outs of Coffee is presented by DriposDona, and Mill City Roasters. The 2022 Build-Outs of Coffee is sponsored by La MarzoccoPacific Barista SeriesAcaia, Cropster, and Marco Beverage Systems.