TRUMBULL, Conn. — As Ed Freedman sees it, life’s too short to drink bad coffee.
“And there’s too much bad coffee out there,” said the Fairfield resident.
That’s why Freedman waved goodbye to a profitable career in IT sales to start Shearwater Coffee Roasters, Fairfield County’s only certified organic coffee-roasting business.
Gearing up to celebrate its third birthday in September, the shop, based in a Trumbull corporate park, is fast becoming the go-to boutique bean house for a slew of local restaurants and coffee shops.
The concept is straight forward: Freedman and his wife and business partner, Wanda, buy fair trade, certified organic beans from Guatemala, Ethiopia, Indonesia and other top-growing regions, bring them to Trumbull and roast about 800 to 1,000 pounds a week in batches of just 20 pounds at a time.
All the work is done manually to maintain high quality and unique flavors.
“You buy good beans and then roast them properly,” said Freedman, who says his coffees can stand alone without cream or sugar. “Good coffee can be exceptional on its own.”
Freedman started on his way to his business as a hobby in the 1980s, when he began home-roasting beans. He said he saw a future in bringing the kind of top-notch coffee so popular in the Pacific Northwest to Fairfield County.
“I knew this area was late to the game,” he said. “The Connecticut market is maturing in terms of its knowledge of coffee.”
It’s definitely catching on fast, though. Shearwater coffees are served at many state restaurants, such as Martel, Artisan and Toto in Fairfield, Westport’s The Whelk and Bartaco, Mezon Tapas Bar in Danbury, Ari Bella in Shelton, Tusk & Cup in Ridgefield and Greenwich’s L’Escale.
Fans can grab a bag for home at Whole Foods, Walter Stewarts of New Canaan, Caraluzzi’s in Bethel and Newtown, Fairfield’s The Pantry and Village Market of Wilton, among many other shops.
Shearwater also partners with nonprofits, sharing its coffee through AmeriCares, United Way, the Robert Irvine Foundation and more.
Freedman and his small staff open their 2,000-square-foot showroom to visitors who would like to try a rotating list of about a dozen brews or buy coffee makers and coffee-roasting supplies.
“I tell people it’s kind of like visiting a winery,” he said.
Freedman said he strives to produce high-end gourmet roasted beans and grinds, but he refuses to compromise when it comes to organic standards and making sure he works with only fair trade farms.
“We saw it as a compromise in ethics to do anything else,” he said. “I’d have a hard time sleeping at night.”
Learn more about Shearwater Coffee Roasters on its website.
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