Up on a small hill in Chilmark, you will find the most amazing coffee house. It’s not one where you can grab a seat and while away an afternoon drinking a cup of joe, but rather it is where Chilmark Coffee Company makes its magic.
Todd Christy, yes the man who loves to bike, is the man behind what’s brewing. A man who has had a passion for coffee since the 70’s has tapped into that love and is making his own. In this coffee house, which is small and quite cute and very close to his actual house, he is roasting his own blends of coffee. But seriously, how did a man who worked for the Town of Chilmark decide to leave a safe, conservative town job, and venture into the unknown world of roasting coffee?
Bikes, Food & Coffee
It all started on a bike ride. One day last year, Todd was riding with Chris Fisher, a well known progressive chef on MV. He and Todd are both avid coffee drinkers – we’re talking about people who drink all sorts of small micro roaster coffees (like microbrewed beer), coffees I have never even heard of, debating a favorite topic, coffee. During the conversation, Chris suggested to Todd that he roast his own beans. An idea began to brew and that night, Todd went online and bought a a 1lb sample roaster.
Just like that, Todd began roasting coffee. With a lot of research and a lot of help and a lot of experimenting, he came up with some pretty tasty roasts. He left his job, and began roasting coffee full time. Quite a gamble to leave your job and follow a passion.
Todd traveled around to some of New York City’s most famous coffee houses, like Joe’s. He found that other coffee lovers were willing to share their knowledge, and try his blends. Much to his surprise, people well versed in the art of coffee were loving his roasts!
He and his wife Jen, worked on the designs for their coffee labels and bags, and before you knew it, Chilmark Coffee Company was selling its coffee in stores around the Island. Last Summer, you could only buy it at a couple of places including, Beetlebung Farm, Morning Glory Farm, 7a, and of course The Chilmark Store.
Each week Todd was roasting 100 pounds of coffee in his sample roaster and it was selling out soon as it hit the shelves — much to his surprise. He couldn’t keep up with the demand. His gamble was paying off. People were loving his coffee.
With the coffee being such a hot seller (no pun intended), he invested in two much larger roasters, beautiful, yellow Diedrich roasters. Todd likes Diedrich because it is a small, family run company out of Iowa. These machines are seriously a thing of beauty, and when you get to taste what they produce, they’re even more amazing. With these new roasters, he now had the opportunity to make a lot more coffee.
Over the past year, Todd has continued to roast beans and make signature blends. Chilmark Coffee Company offers over a dozen varieties, and there seem to always be new ones. My favorite of the bunch, is the La Amistad Organic from Costa Rica, which has such a hint of chocolate. It’s smooth and tasty!
With his coffees, he uses some of the best coffee beans available in the World, from places like Kenya, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Honduras or Brazil, all of which are known for their fabulous beans. Each bean offers its own special flavor. Sometimes Todd will buy an entire bean crop from one farmer. I think that’s pretty cool, since there will not be any other coffee with that particular bean anywhere else in the world.
Todd enjoys buying different beans and trying different levels of roasting on them. It’s sort of like a chef in a kitchen creating recipes. It’s amazing that he can find the right roasts for satisfy so many different people. If you think about it, coffee preferences are so subjective. There are beans that offer a nutty flavor, some are more fruity, some are strong and robust. So many different types, and a lot depends on how they’re roasted.
I have to admit that I prefer a dark roasted, earthy coffee, but after learning a bit about different flavors from different beans from different places, I’ve learned to appreciate other varieties of roasts, which I used to be quick to dismiss.
Most days, you’ll find Todd in the coffee house roasting different beans, bagging his beans to sell, or you’ll see him in his red Volkswagen Euro Van delivering coffee around the Island. If you think about it, Chilmark Coffee Company is the ultimate in fresh coffee. The coffee bags are actually stamped with the date they were roasted and bagged. Since it sells out weekly, it really might be the freshest coffee you’ll ever have.
As if roasting hundreds of pounds of coffee for our coffee makers each week isn’t enough, Chilmark Coffee Company has introduced its cold brew Menemsha Mud. “This is cold brewed premium coffee; coffee roasted to exacting profile and taste; ground to a medium coarse grind; steeped for 24 hours in wonderful crystal clear Chilmark water at 48 degrees; filtered twice and bottled in our beautiful flip-top bottles; add ice to an elegant glass and pour over this cold brew…amazing” to quote Todd.
It’s cold coffee like you’ve never had before. It’s not watered down or stripped of any flavor. There are three to choose from, Menemsha Mud Regular, Decaf, & Espresso. Add your sugar and cream etc., or drink it black — once you’ve had this coffee, it’s hard to go back to the other stuff. At about $7.00 a bottle, it is a bit of an investment for your palette but one you will not regret, and with this hot weather we’ve been having, you’ll appreciate it even more. It’s perfect for the beach or to bring to those many Summer gatherings with friends.
What’s Brewing Next?
Now that he’s got roasting in the bag, I asked Todd what he hoped the future of Chilmark Coffee would bring? He had a couple of things in mind. Todd is the kind of guy that likes a challenge. He even keeps an “idea book,” so he can work on what’s next. But for now, he hopes that Chilmark Coffee Company will make him a salary that he can live on, that he sells enough, so he can roast year-round, and that he can have the opportunity to bring good coffee to more people. Well, it seems as though Todd is on the right path to having all of that and more.
Chilmark Coffee Company is popping up all over the Island. It can now be found in 14 locations including its original locations and at places like Not You Sugar Mamas, Saltwater Cafe, and interestingly, at the Texaco in Menemsha (yes, the coffee there is still only $.50 a cup), and of course, on the Chilmark Coffee Company website. So, if you see Chilmark Coffee Company coffee, grab a cup or a bottle or a bag to grind at home, sit back and savor a little roasted love from MV.
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