We're both driven by the novelty of the pursuit, yet experienced enough to speak about its stages, and the push to learn how to do this right is what's driving us.
At certain coffee houses (our recent favorites are just over the bridge: Joe The Art of Coffee in Rittenhouse, and Ultimo), there's a very intricate process to achieving an excellent cup of brewed-to-order coffee that's not unlike threading a needle.
The exact same thing happens with roasting, and that is what I found so neat about the operation at Revolution. Its founders are new to the roasting game, but they take their work seriously, and with a lot of the excitement you get when learning something fresh.
Steve McFadden, Justin Ettore and Joe Demarest started their whole enterprise because they felt passionately that there aren't enough coffee roasters in South Jersey from which to buy very fresh beans.
"Our short-term goal is to really establish ourselves as a premiere coffee roaster in the Collingswood area by providing high-quality coffee at a fair price," Ettore said.
"We all really like the small-town feel and want to become one of the local, established businesses that people are proud to recommend."
For our town to have access to ultra-fresh beans is a wonderful thing. A long-term plan could see the trio begin a wholesale or retail business, or maybe a mix of both.
Revolution Roasters takes its name from its founders' interest in bringing their modern business approach to a factory (The Factory) setting. The Revolution logo shows coffee beans inside a gear, trading on both the coffee grinding imagery as well as its founders' desire to become another piece of the cottage-industry puzzle here in town. Its plain brown coffee bags also evoke the simpler, blue-collar aesthetic of a brown-bag lunch.
Lets get down to the coffee.
The current beans Revolution offers are Guatemalan: a fair-trade Chajul and Royal Select, water-processed decaf. Both are roasted to a point called "City Plus:" heated until a certain point that leans more towards a darker-but-not-too-dark roast.
Coffee beans as they're heated act somewhat similar to popcorn: if you leave the popcorn in too long, it burns; take it out too quickly, and some kernels aren't popped.
But coffee beans have a very complex DNA, and doing certain things at any stage in the process can make subtle and unique flavor changes. This delicate magic happens all in a span of 15 minutes from start to finish.
To find that perfect setting for the beans at Revolution Roasters, McFadden keeps a close eye on the clock, the temperature, and, at certain moments, adjusts the flame to control the rise of the temp. He also records the temperature at two- and then one-minute intervals, so if a batch comes out particularly good they can then replicate the process.
After about six or seven minutes, you hear the first "crack." The process continues on for another few minutes until just before a second crack occurs.
In the future, the trio plans to offer multiple varieties from light, to medium, to dark roasts; however, for now Revolution Roasters are producing the medium/dark roast I saw. If you're looking for a taste profile, think Starbucks blonde roast.
If you're interested in buying the bags—and we think it's a very worthwhile purchase—they're being sold at The American Table. Revolution Roasters updates are also available via Facebook, or their website.
You can also stop by on Second Saturday at The Factory to speak with the guys and maybe check out their test roast of an Indonesian Sulawesi.
They will have a tent at the Crafts and Fine Arts Festival and hope to be in the Collingswood Farmers Market sometime this Fall.