What do greyhounds, coffee beans and a popcorn maker all have in common? I found all of them at the Union Place Coffee Roasters Open House Coffee Roast in April, 2015!
Union Place Coffee Roasters is a boutique, artisan coffee roasting house dedicated to the art of roasting only 100% Arabica coffee beans in small batches daily, to provide consistency and freshness, as well as a great coffee drinking experience. By keeping detailed notes for each hands-on roast, they can consistently duplicate desired batches and deliver perfectly roasted fresh coffee.
They are also dedicated to sourcing coffee beans from respected, socially responsible importers who emphasize fairness and equality, and work directly with the farmers in the Central and South American regions.
As we drove up to the entrance of Union Place Coffee Roasters in the Genesee Valley Regional Market (Rochester, NY), I wasn’t sure what to expect. It is located in a secluded corner of the market, surrounded by the rear entrances of other establishments. The area has a hip, warehouse district vibe.
On this warm Spring evening, they propped open their entrance door and raised their garage door, inviting visitors to enjoy a refreshing cross breeze in the retail area.
During the evening open house, Union Place Coffee Roasters promoted their charity of the month – The 4 Walls Project. The project is dedicated to helping change the lives of families in the rural town of El Sauce, Nicaragua. In fact, a local contingent has a trip planned there in May, 2015, to celebrate the building of their 100th house. Learn more about The 4 Walls Project and how you can help by visiting their website.
In addition, they were hosting visitors from Greyhound Adoption of Rochester, NY. I couldn’t help but stop to pet the beautiful and sweet greyhounds; they really stole my heart. This organization is a non-profit, volunteer initiative. Their goal is to place retired racing greyhounds into loving families. Visit their website to find out more about Greyhound Adoption of Rochester, NY.
I really liked the casual and inviting atmosphere at Union Place Coffee Roasters. As I entered the store, I first noticed the black and white checker patterned floor – it really popped. Also, i liked the framed coffee sacks on the walls. The high ceiling with exposed piping added to the chic warehouse feel.
The center island of coffee bean dispensers made for an easy traffic flow, while an arrangement of a few chairs and a table in one corner invited guests to stay for a bit and visit. I wonder though, if more seating would promote longer stays (and increase sales).
I liked that the expansive front counter is large enough to accommodate guests waiting for their coffee, as well as those browsing the retail displays. A friendly message awaits each customer on the wall next to the front counter (see photo above).
The selection of coffee beans at Union Place Coffee Roasters is quite impressive. Shown below are just a sampling of the varieties available for bulk purchase:
In addition to bulk coffee beans, they also offer packaged coffee beans, teas and a few accompaniments. Their attractive product displays invite shoppers to take a closer look.
Roasting Coffee in a Popcorn Maker
Yes, it’s true. You can actually roast coffee beans in a popcorn maker! Coffee conneisseur Jonathan Dubner demonstrated how easy it is to roast coffee at home, using a hot air popper. He showed the crowd how to roast two African coffees – one from Kenya and the other from Ethiopa. I happily sampled the Kenyan coffee and found it to have a depth of flavor which I haven’t tasted in other coffees.
Jonathan explained that you should use an air popper in which the air circulates around the popper, rather than just from the bottom, to ensure even roasting. He also explained that you can use either naturally dried beans or washed beans, but that dried beans usually deliver the best roasting results in the air popper.
To roast coffee beans in an air popper, simply place the beans in the popper where you would normally place the popcorn kernels. Do not add any oil or butter.
The heat of the air popper will cause the beans to have a “first crack” at approximately 380 degrees, resulting in the husk separating from the bean. The husk is then expelled via the popper.
You can stop the roasting process there, or you can continue to roast the beans until they go through a “second crack” or longer. The longer you roast them, the stronger your coffee will be.
When you are done popping, use a sieve or cheesecloth the separate the removed husks from the beans. The result will be roasted coffee beans which are ready to be ground and then brewed.
What a cool demonstration. I would recommend it if you are interested in the art of coffee roasting!
For these demonstrations, Jonathan used a French coffee press for brewing the coffee. This method does not use a paper filter, therefore leaving a higher concentration of oils in the cup. Also, it allows for more flexibility in the flavor development, such that you can steep it quickly for a lighter brew or allow it to steep longer for a richer, bolder flavor.
For more information on home coffee roasting, visits Sweet Maria’s website. Jonathan recommended this website for anyone interested in roasting coffee at home or indulging in other coffee adventures.
“Small Batch” Coffee Processing
During the open house, owner Laurie DiProspero delighted the crowd with a demonstration of her Dedrich coffee grinder. Although this is considered “small batch” coffee processing, don’t be fooled – there are a lot of beans in that machine. However, not so many that it is a large-scale manufacturing operation. We were lucky enough to get up close to it to see it swirling the beans around, which was quite impressive.
On this day, Laurie was packaging Manuel Lopez Nicaraguan coffee. It is an organically grown, direct trade coffee.
According to the package, it is a “City Roast, Balanced, Light Bodied, Pleasant Acidity, Hint of Chocolate and Molasses with Fruit and Floral Notes” coffee. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
I noticed the following label on the back of the package:
“Enlace Project Donation – $1 of your purchase is donated to the Enlace Project. Promoting economic development of small communities to stimulate business growth through training and education to support economic stability in the El Sauce, Nicaraguan region.”
I just love the community activist point of view at Union Place Coffee Roasters!
The service at Union Place Coffee Roasters was friendly and efficient. In fact, all the staff were extraordinarily friendly, down to earth and easy to talk to. They welcomed us upon our arrival, offered us coffee samples and indulged our many questions about coffee roasting, grinding and brewing. Even the other patrons were polite and friendly, like we were all long-time friends. The crowd and the staff were refreshingly warm and receptive.
I truly enjoyed my visit to Union Place Coffee Roasters. Not only did I learn a lot about coffee roasting, grinding and brewing, but I also feel like I made some new friends. Although they have been in business at this location for about 2 years, this is the first that I have heard of them. I will be sure to go back though, because I really enjoyed the people and the coffee. Stop by and say hello, pick up a cup of coffee to go, or stay for a bit. I know you’ll go back again soon.
If You Go:
Union Place Coffee Roasters
Genesee Valley Regional Market
900 Jefferson Road, Building 15 Suite 1504
Rochester, NY 14623
Phone: (585) 784-0404
Business Hours: Mon-Wed and Fri: 9am – 5pm, Thurs: 9am – 6pm, Sat: 9 am-3 pm, Sun: closed
Cuisine: Coffeehouse, retail and wholesale
Meals Served: Coffee, Tea
Children’s Menu: No
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Requires Reservations: No
Table Service: No – counter service
Take Out: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
Parking: Free and plentiful in lot
Valet Service: No
Bar Seating: No
Coat Check: No
Date opened: Spring, 2013
Date visited: Thursday, April 30th evening Open House