Wasatch Roasting: Ogden craft coffeemaker to open downtown roastery this winter

Saturday , November 12, 2016 - 5:30 AM3 comments

LEIA LARSEN, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — A new roastery will soon be getting Ogdenites to slow down and smell the joe.

Wasatch Roasting Company officially began churning out custom coffee beans last spring, but plans for a new space and tasting room will firmly root the company downtown in a small historic brick building at 2436 Grant Ave.

Ogden already has a decent list of cafes and coffee shops, but Wasatch Roasting Company’s founder and roaster Darren Blackford wants the business to offer some extra perks. 

“We felt we could take the coffee movement that is already here in Ogden and take it up a notch,” Blackford said. “We are the only ones in town that will have both a roastery and coffee shop. Folks will come in and actually see their coffee being roasted.”

Ogden coffee lovers might recognize Blackford’s name through his other side business, Wasatch Waggle Bee Company honey, which is sold at various coffee shops in town.

The idea for a Northern Utah roastery, Blackford’s newest venture, began percolating in his mind after a trip to Costa Rica last winter.

“A local there was roasting on a small, tabletop roaster, peddling out coffee from the hillsides around,” he said. “It was heavenly. I didn’t want to do anything else while we were there.”

Blackford brought a few bags of Costa Rican beans home, but when they ran out, he wanted to learn how to replicate the taste and experience he found on his travels.

“I sought out as close of a bean to that region in Costa Rica that I could get my hands on and I bought a table top roaster,” he said.

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From there, he was hooked. He decided he wanted to share the experience with friends and the community. He launched a website to sell custom-roasted beans and began passing out slow-pour samples at various events throughout the summer and fall. 

Blackford wants to help educate customers on the intricacies of coffee-making, too, through a brick-and-mortar coffee shop.

He’s teamed up with Nick Cobbledick, an Ogden native who spent the past 16 years in the Denver, Colorado coffee scene. There, he learned about roasting, opening coffeehouses and serving the perfect cup. Now that he’s returned home, Cobbledick wants to bring more of a “slow coffee” experience to Junction City.

“Ogden desperately needs what we’re trying to do,” he said. “There are a lot of coffee shops here ... that I believe are stuck in a ‘90s mentality where they provide coffee, but they’re selling more syrups and cream and milk beverages.”

Quick trips through the drive-through or the cafe to get a caffeine fix have their place, but Wasatch Roasting Company wants customers to experience a pure, simple, flavorful brew. 

“What we’re offering is more of a slow bar. We’re going to have espresso, but when I say ‘slow bar,’ I mean pour-overs, French press — these processes that take about four minutes for a cup,” Cobbledick said. 

As those four minutes pass, the barista can chat with patrons about the coffee’s origin, roast and brewing process. And when it comes to coffee, there seems to be a lot of confusion stirring.

Blackford said customers often want a dark roast because they assume it has better flavor and more caffeine. But a lighter roast showcases subtle characteristics that develop with each bean, depending on where it’s grown and how it’s harvested. 

“That coffee plant in that farm in Colombia, it produces unique flavors. The darker your roast it, those characteristics get eclipsed by the roast flavor,” Blackford said. 

Roasters often try to mask lower quality beans with a dark roast for that reason. A longer roast cooks out the caffeine, too.

“I compare it to broccoli — a raw piece of broccoli has a lot more nutrients and the longer you cook your broccoli, the more nutrients you lose,” Cobbledick said. “You can think of caffeine the same way. The more time a bean spends in that roaster, the more quality you’re roasting out of it.”

Even subtle changes, like coarser grounds, can make a big difference in a brew’s flavor. Wasatch Roasting Company’s purveyors want to help Northern Utah java lovers develop their palettes further and experimenting with making their own unique brew at home, too.

“We can roast the same bean 50 different ways and those 50 cups will taste different,” Blackford said. “We’re seeing folks at home dial in their methods, spending their own money to tweak things, so they can achieve their perfect cup. There’s enough of that around that we think folks are hungry to come in and learn that in our shop.”

The targeted opening date for Wasatch Roasting Company’s downtown shop is mid-December. Until then, Blackford and Cobbledick are working to get local restaurants to sell their brews. Custom-roasted beans and coffee paraphernalia are still available online, too. For more information about the roastery, visit wasatchroasting.com or call 801-920-6970. 

Contact Reporter Leia Larsen at 801-625-4289 or llarsen@standard.net. Follow her on Facebook.com/leiaoutside or on Twitter @LeiaLarsen.

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