Good things are brewing at Cape Cod Coffee Roasters
Cape Cod Life / September/October 2015 / Food & Dining, People & Businesses
Writer: Matthew J. Gill / Photographer: Jennifer Dow
Mashpee company offers a variety of roasts and flavors, facility tours, and more
Like most endeavors, success in the world of commercial coffee roasting requires a focus on and a commitment to the fundamentals. And in the coffee business, everything begins and ends with the beans.
At Cape Cod Coffee Roasters in Mashpee, the company uses beans imported from more than a dozen countries including Colombia, Costa Rica and Ethiopia, and the product arrives at the facility in large, 150-pound burlap bags. The burlap allows the beans inside to breathe, and if you didn’t know, the coffee beans—before roasting—are green.
“It’s really key to have good beans,” says Cate MacGregor, who owns the business with her sister Molly. “You really want to make sure your inputs are good. You need quality throughout the process. You can’t really skimp in those areas.”
In a back room, there is a small roaster where the beans are tested for quality and flavor—and to determine the best roast for them. If they pass muster here, the beans are brought out to the warehouse where they’re added to a massive furnace to begin the roasting process. The beans are roasted at temperatures ranging from 400 to 500 degrees, and each roast takes 10 to 15 minutes. In a given day, the staff roasts three or four different kinds of coffee, and all of the packaging is done on site. “We have a lot of capacity,” Molly says, “and we make it all here on the Cape.”
This coffee company’s roots date back more than a century, but the company did not have a presence on the Cape until 1970 when Demos Young branched off from his family’s business in Salem to open Cape Cod Coffee in Hyannis. Young later opened the Cape’s first roasting facility in Mashpee in 1987, and sold the business to the MacGregor sisters in 2011.
Filled with enthusiasm—and a passion for great coffee—the co-owners have been learning and perfecting their craft and growing the business ever since. “It’s been fun,” Molly says. “The learning curve was steep but we got there.”
“The response we’ve received from our customers at the retail shop and the wholesale customers has been really good,” Cate adds. “Especially when they taste the coffee—they really come on board.”
Cape Cod Coffee Roasters’ products are sold at many shops in the area and are also served at a number of restaurants and B&Bs on the Cape and in Plymouth. “People cheer our delivery driver when he shows up,” Molly says. The company also sells coffee “subscriptions,” where two bags of a customer’s coffee of choice are delivered to his or her home or office.
In the retail shop, visitors can select from a wide variety of medium and dark roasted beans and grounds, including French Roast and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a floral and fruity blend that inspires comparisons to tea. Hazelnut and Chocolate Raspberry are some of the flavored brews available. Visitors can purchase 1-pound or 5-pound bags, or browse a selection of coffee makers and specialty items such as filters, frothers, and French presses. The company sells reusable K-cups—not the throwaway kind. “We’re hoping to outlast K-cups,” Molly says, “not in landfills—but in business.”
Since the new business got underway, Cape Cod Coffee Roasters has continued to expand, and the owners say much of the success can be attributed to word-of-mouth referrals. Many visitors stop by the store to buy some coffee, bring it home, and then share it with friends and family. The word,—like the wafting aroma of the company’s Sunrise Blend, spreads.
Molly says other roasting companies in the region have been welcoming, and sometimes she and Cate chat with staff at these companies about different issues or techniques. “It’s a really nice industry,” Molly says. “Other roasters are supportive.” Another bonus: Young, the man who first brought the company to the Cape, works with the MacGregors, sharing his 84 years of wisdom as a coffee consultant.
Naturally, the company’s six-person staff gets to try a lot of coffee. When each roast is completed, for example, a pot is brewed to see how it tastes and to ensure top quality. Molly, who handles most of the roasting duties, tries to complete all of her tasting in the morning as she is not supposed to have caffeine after 2 p.m. Also, when the MacGregors have attended coffee conferences in recent years, where tasting is often a primary activity, the duo has been known to get a little ‘coffee buzzed’. Lastly, in other news of a bold variety, Cate got married in July. For her wedding gift, Molly roasted the coffee to be served at the reception.
Of the many coffee varieties the company roasts, what’s the most popular? “Medium roast is really our sweet spot,” Cate says. “My favorite honestly changes throughout the year.” Molly says she often takes home the Kenyan roast, but Monsoon Malabar, with its cedar undertones, has been in high demand with customers. Does she have a favorite? “Usually,” Molly concedes, “it’s the one I just roasted.”
Cape Cod Coffee Roasters is at 348 Main Street (Route 130) in Mashpee. The retail shop is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Saturdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The company also offers tours of the facility on Thursday mornings; reservations are required. For more information about the company, visit capecodroasters.com.