Wake Up in the Morning With Local Coffee
Brewing more coffee at home than usual? New Hampshire Coffee is here for you.
Welcome to Re-Tales – an ongoing series of stories from retailers throughout the Granite State. Get to know your local shopkeeper and discover what makes their establishment special.
What are your names and titles?
Nick Barretto, co-owner
Chris Barretto, co-owner
Tell us about the history of New Hampshire Coffee Co.
The company was founded in a barn in Eliot, Maine, in 1989 as Piscataqua Coffee Roasting Co. by Michael Kirk. He was an early foodie and a pet peeve of his was getting a poorly-prepared or stale cup of coffee, especially following a fine meal. This prompted him to start roasting himself and eventually go into business to share his passion for great coffee. In 1996, his health started to fail, and Mike partnered with his brother Bill Coneys to continue the dream of providing freshly roasted, excellent coffee to everyone. Bill and Mike moved the growing business to a larger facility (our location today) in Dover. Mike passed away in 1997 and Bill and his wife Melissa took over. Shortly after, they changed the name to New Hampshire Coffee Roasting Co. The idea was to create an easily recognized brand and push growth and expansion while aligning the name of the business with the company’s new home in New Hampshire. Bill and Melissa ran the business together from then until April of 2019, when Bill passed away unexpectedly. Melissa continued for the remainder of the year, eventually making the difficult decision to sell the company. At the time, Nick had been working for New Hampshire Coffee for about five years. Melissa sold the business to us, allowing the company to carry on as a family-owned operation, a tradition which we are honored to continue. We took over January 1, 2020 and while the past year has had some challenges, we’ve had incredible support from our awesome team and our amazing customers.
What makes your store unique?
We’re a small batch, craft roaster, so everything we produce is as fresh as possible. At the same time, we offer a wider variety of coffee than most roasters, which allows our customers to find something they will love. Whether it’s a unique single origin, a smooth tasting blend, a bold dark roast or a flavored coffee, we have it. If you visit our retail store, one of our staff can offer suggestions on coffees you might like, and tips and techniques to dial in your perfect cup at home. Our Roastmaster, Mike Chasse, has been roasting coffee for over 25 years and is an invaluable resource for us and our customers.
Tell us about a memorable day / experience you’ve had in the shop.
Prior to purchasing the business a memorable experience, for me [Nick] personally, was the first time we did our yearly Appalachian Mountain Club order. Every year, we do a large order of around 2,500 bags for them, which they use to make “Campfire Coffee” at the AMC huts in the White Mountains. After it leaves our facility, the coffee has to be airlifted by helicopter to the huts, so it is quite the undertaking. Having stayed in, and enjoyed the huts while hiking with family and friends, it is cool that we are providing their coffee.
Do you have anything new/exciting planned for the near future?
We don’t have a specific date yet, but we expect the (currently vacant) coffee hut in front of our building to re-open this year. Once we are able, we would also like to host coffee tastings and tours of our roasting facility, and perhaps even do some music events here.
In the past, we have worked with several breweries who needed coffee for brewing beer, and we love doing that and hope to do more. Our most recent collaboration was with Smuttynose for their Magic Beans porter. Cisco Brewers used our coffee in an experimental beer they made called Snow Day stout, and we supply coffee to Garrison City Beerworks for a reoccurring white stout they brew called Box and Whisker and a session stout called Third Cup.
What keeps you passionate about your business?
We know many people start each day with coffee. Helping our customers dial in their perfect cup is something that we are all passionate about and find very rewarding. We have customers who will report back on tips or techniques we suggest, and what worked and didn’t work. Having such engaged customers keeps us on our toes, but in the best way possible.
We also work with talented and dedicated employees, and in a small business, they quickly become more than employees. They are the people we see every day and share our troubles and triumphs with. We feel an obligation to succeed and grow the business, so we can help our employees do the same.
How have you adapted to COVID-19?
Immediately after buying the business we redid the website. The one we inherited had been built in 2010, and had been outdated for years. Having a cleaner looking website that is easier to use both for customers, but also for us, has been a major benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We shut down for a month at the end of March 2020 and offered free shipping on all orders over 2 pounds as a way to keep our local customers happy and safe. We have continued that as a special on Tuesdays (Two Pound Tuesday) since reopening our factory outlet to the public. We also implemented a host of cleaning and sanitization policies to keep our staff and customers safe. We have had a mask requirement for all customers entering our store since we reopened at the end of April 2020.
How can people best support NH Coffee right now? (shop in store, order online, etc.)
One of our mottos is, “drink global, buy local,” which is our ask for support of small and local businesses. If people continue to do that, as they have prior to and throughout the pandemic, then that is all we can ask for. Stop by our factory outlet or check us out online. We always appreciate when you shout us out to your friends and family or on social media. Word of mouth is the best advertising!
What are some of your most popular coffees/products?
Currently, our most popular coffee is our Italian style dark roast (fair trade and organic Soprano roast or Italian roast). For a long time, our most popular coffee was our fair trade and organic Shipyard blend, which is a blend of two medium roasts and a dark roast. Our most popular medium roast by far is our Country blend, which is a blend of Central and South American beans. It makes a smooth, easy-drinking cup of coffee to start your day off. We also have a wide variety of flavors, and they have seen a recent surge in popularity.
Where are your coffee beans sourced from?
We have responsibly sourced, specialty grade Arabica beans from all over the world. As much as we can, we buy fair trade, organic, and Rainforest Alliance certified beans. Generally, coffee only grows in the tropics, and ideally at higher altitudes. We have quite a few beans from different Central and South American countries (including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras), several varieties from the Indonesian islands (including Java, Sumatra, Papua New Guinea and Flores) and several from Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Some of them we have constantly available, and some we rotate in and out depending on the time of year and the harvest cycles. We also recently brought in some very special beans from Kona in Hawaii and the Blue Mountains in Jamaica.
Where (besides your store) can people buy NH Coffee?
You can find our coffee bags in local specialty grocery stores such as Tendercrop Farm in Dover, The Golden Harvest in Kittery, On the Vine Marketplace in Exeter and Claremont Spice & Dry Goods in Claremont. We private label and package coffee for several companies in the region as well.
You can also enjoy our coffee in many of the area’s finest dining establishments and cafés. We are always looking for the right opportunities to expand our list of partners.