Just southwest of the better-known Scranton, PA (setting for the American TV adaptation of The Office) sits the humble hamlet of Nanticoke. Nestled gently into a rolling hillside above the Susquehana River, just 10,000 or so people call this place home. It is not what you would describe as a new wave coffee hotbed.
And yet, the powerful argument for good coffee can be heard on the streets of this small town, no different than dozens of others around the world. It's not some big city thing, this appreciation for delicious, hand-made coffee. It doesn't discriminate on post code or politics or proximity to traditional centers of what's good and delicious. You can find great coffee these days in small towns around the world—it's a cultural movement we've watched with wonder since launching this website in 2009, and it continues today all around us, unabated, with the most compelling internal propulsion.
Let's meet one more example today: Grateful Roast of Nanticoke, PA, who just opened their very first cafe.
As told to Sprudge by Brian Williams of Grateful Roast.
For those who aren't familiar, will you tell us about your company?
My wife and I founded Grateful Roast in 2006 when we purchased an Ambex YM-2. It was our intention to save up and eventually open a cafe. I roasted coffee on my sunporch, mostly for friends and family, and waited for the right opportunity to arise. After a few false starts with roasting space falling through, we found this space and signed the lease.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
A brick-and-mortar stand-alone building flanking our local college campus. It's a small space, totaling just under 1200 square feet. Within this space, we have seating for about 30 people, a roasting space, and a hand-crafted bar that seats five comfortably.
The space was originally built as a sandwich shop but was converted to a car lot and auto detailing center shortly after being constructed (our bar currently sits in the old car-washing bay). After the car lot moved out, a tattoo studio moved in and has been there for years until this last winter when they relocated.
When we took over, it needed a lot of work. We spent the better part of the last four months in full-on renovation mode. We knocked out the old car-washing bay, removed and repaired the floor, etc.
What's your approach to coffee?
Being a roaster first, I keep origin very close to my heart. It all starts on the ground so we need to make sure that most vital link in the coffee chain is the strongest link, because if it's not, it breaks and we watch amazing coffee trees uproot and replaced with other, more sustainable crops.
We have a very unique opportunity in specialty coffee to use our purchase power for good… something that other industries don't have. So for us, we approach coffee from a holistic view and do the best we can with the tools we have.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We have a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II two-group semi-auto coupled with the Nuova Simonelli MDX grinder. We also have two BUNN tower brewers and our old-faithful bulk grinder we affectionately call Beverly Crusher, made by the now-defunct Jericho. She will be retired shortly.
Since we are small, we are keeping our coffee inventory small… consisting of a good Central, an African, and a wild-card depending on what's current and what's cupping outstanding at the time.
What's your hopeful target opening date/month?
We are now open! We opened on June 21st, only 21 days later than our initial target opening.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
Sarah's dad, Dennis Nealon, came out of retirement to provide tons of skilled labor. He's a retired union electrician whose skills at carpentry and plumbing proved priceless. We came entirely out-of-pocket by self-funding this build-out… without his help and support, this would not have been possible.
What's the address?