Terra Nova is an artisan roaster, specializing in organic, fair trade coffee. Recently, LoveToKnow had the opportunity to speak with John Brewster, founder of Terra Nova Coffee in New Hampshire.
The Beginnings of Terra Nova
John decided that with a last name like Brewster he needed to choose between coffee and beer. He chose coffee and never looked back. He and his wife, Cindy, owned and operated a café in Keene where they served their artisan roast coffee exclusively. Their coffee was so popular that it won an award for the best cup of coffee in New Hampshire in 2007.
Cindy is an organic farmer, so there was no question that the coffee beans would be organic. The company roasts small batches of coffee daily so that the product is always very fresh.
The Business of Organic FairTrade Coffee
LTK: What does a typical day for John Brewster look like?
JB: I wish I had a typical day. The day starts around 7am with coffee tasting, then the morning roasting and filling of the orders. Late morning, I go on the road to talk with current customers and new customers.
LTK: Who is your average customer?
JB: People who want quality, taste and a superior product.
LTK: John, why organic?
JB: When you see how many products in the world have been treated with chemicals , why take the chance with my health and the health of our customers? Plus, I believe organic coffee taste is superior to non organic coffee.
LTK: What are the biggest challenges to your business?
JB: We believe that quality is our biggest challenge and we are always conducting tastings to ensure the coffee meet our standards.
LTK: Are there areas where you feel that you have achieved your goals?
JB: Using the highest quality coffee and keeping the cost reasonable allows our customers to enjoy a great product.
LTK: Do you feel that the large coffee companies are pushing the smaller companies out of business?
JB: I have to say that the smaller coffee companies are in a better shape to adjust to new trends and have less corporate bull to deal with. I see the local roasters as being the trend setters.
LTK: How do you plan to secure Terra Nova; to ensure that it is in business for a long time?
JB: I will always be looking for the best organic coffee on the market.
LTK: What are your future plans for Terra Nova?
JB: We sold our café in Feb 2008. We outgrew the space. I hope to open a new café/roasting facility in mid 2009.
Coffee Varieties and Roasts
LTK: Do you have a favorite coffee?
JB: This week Ethiopian, last week Sumatra.
LTK: What is the top Terra Nova coffee sold?
JB: Our Espresso followed by the Red House blend are the two most popular.
LTK: For someone wanting to switch to organic, fair trade coffee, or just beginning to drink organic coffee, is there a bean, blend, or roast that you recommend?
JB: I always like to recommend a good Mexican, wonderful mild taste and does not sit on the tongue like a Sumatra.
LTK: What are your top two" You have to try this!" coffee beans?
JB: In the northeast, mild coffees are very big--but I like a darker roast. The two I would say "WOW! You definitely have to try this" are:
- Our number one coffee, Espresso (always the top). Even as a drip cup of coffee, the espresso bean always stands up as the best.
- Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a classic from where coffee was discovered. I always hear people talk about how wonderful the Kenya coffee is, but side by side the Ethiopian walks all over the Kenya.
LTK: How do you come up with new blends? What makes you think, aha! This will be great if it is blended with this and roasted just so.
JB: A new blend takes about three months to get right, and it is a lot of trial and error. Then we do a lot of sample tasting. During the summer months we go to the local farmers market set up a table and give the coffee away. We like to get the feed back right from our customers. We also pair the coffee with food and try to have a great match.
LTK: Do you have any tips for people that want to start roasting their own green coffee beans?
JB: Yes, please do! What a blast roasting is. Do not be afraid to try! Your first batch might not come out the way you want but then again, you might develop the next great roast.
Terra Nova Online
Terra Nova Artisan Coffees are available on the Internet. At their site, customers can choose from many old favorites, as well as try some coffees that might be new to them. Generally, you can expect to receive your coffee within a few days of placing your order.
Part of the charm of organic, fair trade coffee is that many times it is created by a small roaster like John. By supporting fair trade coffee and small companies, you are supporting unique products and a higher quality of life for everyone.