5/16/2013 - Brad Fitzgerald didn’t know much about coffee, but he knew he liked it.
Fitzgerald wanted to transition away from the plumbing and heating business that he owned and into something else. That something else turned into Woodshed Roasting Company, a micro roaster based in Laconia.
“I always liked a good cup of coffee. I didn’t have any background in the coffee industry, but I’ve been self-employed for over 25 years and had a number of businesses,” Fitzgerald said. “I started roasting coffee in 2010 with a one-pound roaster, just going to farmers markets.”
Woodshed Roasting Company offers a wide variety of single origin and blend coffees from all the major coffee-growing regions of the world, including Indonesia, Sumatra, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Hawaii.
“We started with four or five varieties, and we’ve grown into now having 13 different varieties and seven or eight blends,” Fitzgerald said. “We have a good, broad diversity among the growing regions. Sometimes I will bring in something different and rotate them in. Right now we have a nice Ethiopian blend. Next I am hoping to have a Nicaraguan.”
Custom orders are one of the specialities of Woodshed Roasting Company.
“We are roast-to-order, and it’s fresh. Any of our single origins we can roast from white to dark, so if someone likes a dark roast Peruvian and you can’t find it anywhere, we can do that,” he said. “If somebody wants a flavored decaf, like a French vanilla or pumpkin spice decaf, we can do that. Those are very hard to find. We can roast from one pound up.”
Among Woodshed’s best sellers are the Lakehouse blend, Winnipesaukee blend and Fat Tire blend, named for Laconia’s Motorcycle Week.
“The Lakehouse blend is a fair trade organic blend with three different beans. It’s a medium roast, medium-body coffee. The Winnipesaukee blend is a two-bean blend and is also organic. That’s a medium roast but more full-bodied,” Fitzgerald said. “Those sell well. The local name is intriguing to people. The Fat Tire blend, that’s a darker roast.”
Woodshed specializes in fair trade coffee beans, which means the farmers themselves see more money for their work than they would having to go through a middleman.
The company also offers some flavored coffees such as hazelnut, pumpkin spice and coconut as well as a small selection of teas that are mostly available at farmers markets. Woodshed also produces single-serving cups (popularly known as K-cups), that are available online or at Instant Ambition in Merrimack.
According to Fitzgerald, the whole process is fairly simple. First, the beans are weighed out. Fitzgerald said that approximately 20 percent of the bean’s weight is lost in the roasting process, so it takes more than a pound of beans to make a pound of roasted coffee.
The roasting process takes about 15 minutes, depending on how dark you want the coffee. If whole beans are being sold, they go right into a bag and are ready to go. If the roasted beans are being ground up, they require 24 to 72 hours of maturing before being ground and packaged.
Woodshed Roasting Company is a three-person operation at 116 Hounsell Ave., with a store out front where you can purchase coffee and the roasting machines in the back.
Woodshed roasts can be found at numerous stores in the Lakes Region, Harvest Market in Bedford, Bi-Wise in Allenstown and some Hannaford supermarkets, including the one in Concord. Fitzgerald said he hopes to be stocked in the Manchester and Bedford Hannafords soon. Harvest Market in Bedford also carries Woodshed products.