If you’re looking for the Cherry River Roasting Company, all you have to do is use your nose.
A nostalgic sort of smell — slightly earthy, with hints of nuttiness and subtle sweetness — fills the air surrounding the Richwood Scientific building, where the coffee company operates.
Thanks to their business partner Chuck Toussieng, who’s the founder of Richwood Scientific, Jake and Nikki Tyler have begun realizing their entrepreneurial dreams.
Jake first worked for the White Hart Cafe and Roasting Company in Lynchburg, Va. He took his experience there a step further, experimenting at home — roasting green coffee beans with an old air popcorn popper.
In Tioga with his wife Nikki, Jake began selling his roasts to his family. The coffee became so popular, the couple invested in a higher quality coffee bean roaster.
When their burgeoning home business couldn’t roast enough coffee to meet customer demand around Christmas time, they realized their passion for coffee could be an exciting career opportunity. They also saw an avenue to provide quality and flavorful roasts that other trends and mass production fail to produce.
“In the past, coffee for the most part was roasted to just before ash,” Jake explained. “Then the specialty coffee movement started growing in cities. But where the specialty coffee roasters might mess up is by roasting too light, which can lead to an earthy, hay-like, grassy flavor.”
Jake said he wanted to create something more enjoyable and subtle for coffee aficionados.
“We specialize in medium roasts,” he said. “We like to roast beans that meet in the middle, where the coffee is dark enough that it has body, but not so dark that it ruins the flavor.”
From roasting in a popcorn popper to roasting in a machine equipped to create coffee samples, the young West Virginia couple have learned a lot about coffee and roasting beans.
“It’s all trial and error,” Jake said. “We’re modulating coffee flavors throughout the roasting process.”
Comparing the roasting process to the transformation of sugar into caramel, Jake said coffee beans can provide a wide range of flavors.
“Sugar in a frying pan melts into caramel. And where caramel and sugar taste different, so do coffee beans that have been roasted at different temperatures and for various lengths of times,” Jake said.
“Fifteen seconds apart can drastically change the flavor a bean produces,” Nikki added.
By using an extensive coffee cupping technique, a process that tests roasts and flavor notes and aromas, Jake and Nikki are working on more roasts and more offerings.
Currently, they offer five different roasts to customers: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (with light, sweet, fruity, floral and acidic tasting notes); Sierra Mixteca (medium, sweet, acidic and honey); Deleida Maria (dark, heavy body, bold, dark chocolate, smoky and smooth); Cherry River Blend (medium and cinnamon toast crunch); and Sumatra Decaf.
Others have caught on to the couple’s coffee magic. Next door neighbor Whistle Punk Grill and Taphouse serves Cherry River roasts and has been “super amazing partners,” Nikki said.
Appalachian Coffee House, which has locations in Mount Nebo, Princeton and Summersville Regional Medical Center, is up to purchasing 100 pounds each week from Cherry River Roasting Company.
Jake and Nikki aren’t slowing down — customers will soon be able to get their roasts at Tamarack in Beckley and soon-to-open Gad Dam Brewing in Nicholas County.
Because demand for their roasts is growing, they hope to upgrade their roaster from the Behmor sample roaster to a new Arc Roaster that will allow them to roast nine pounds of beans every 15 minutes.
The couple’s passion for coffee goes beyond beans.
“A good cup of coffee can start your day off right, and a bad cup of coffee can be a bad start to your day,” Jake said. “We just love that we can play a part in making people’s days better.
“We also love the culture of coffee. It pushes art and culture in a way that nothing else is. Coffee shops are a center of activity, and thinking and creating. We love all of that and we want it to flourish, so we provide the coffee.”
Jake and Nikki plan to keep growing Cherry River Roasting Company.
They hope to open their own café, selling not only their own creations, but also selling coffee equipment so they can share their knowledge and expertise with customers — helping them have better coffee experiences, sharing their passion with others, and creating a community.
For more information, check out The Cherry River Roasting Company on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.