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Locally Roasted Organic and Specialized Coffees at Woodshed Roasting Company, Where Life's Too Short for Bad Coffee

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Started in a garage with a small roaster, Woodshed Roasting Company in Laconia is now in its sixth year. The company purchases only specialty, which are from the top 20% of a grower's crop, and organic coffees. First selling at farmer's markets and then to smaller stores and restaurants, Woodshed gained a foothold in the community. Today, owner Brad Fitzgerald has his own small, but fragrant, shop where you can see coffee roasted, packed, shipped and stored.

Buying from all the coffee-growing regions (Africa, Indonesia, South America, Central America), Fitzgerald revealed, "We buy our coffee from importers that have built up relationships with the farmers of many years. We also have one direct buy where there is no middleman, where we buy right from the farm in Nicaragua."

Fitzgerald tells that the Brazil is by far the largest coffee-producing country, but Colombia is best known for its coffee. Although some of their best-tasting coffee beans comes from Sumatra and Ethiopia.

High-quality coffee is just one item to be aware of when purchasing coffee beans, but how its grown in another. Fitzgerald cautions to be sure your coffee is really organic that customers should be looking for a USDA-certified label stating the name of the organization that certified the beans to assure quality and integrity of their growing areas. "Organic coffee on the other hand has strict regulations, traceability, inspections and government oversite," Fitzgerald details. "From farm to roaster, inspections are made to ensure compliance of the strict guidelines." Nonorganic coffees, he warns, can be processed with no fertilizer specifications and no real guidelines. These coffees can be label Fair Trade and Rain Forest alliance.

Supporting the local economy any way possible, Woodshed Roasting Company are members of New Hampshire Made, BIBA and the local chamber of commerce. The roasters donate coffee or set up coffee tables with all proceeds going to charity. That's a tasteful way to let the bean help the Laconia community. After all, "Life's too short for bad coffee."

For coffee novices or those who wish to up their cup, Fitzgerald has some advice. He suggests looking for locally roasted beans for freshness and some type of verification (Organic Fair Trade, for instance). "I think the most important thing is how you brew it," observed Fitzgerald. "I like the dripper method (clever or chemex), but French press is also a great way to brew coffee. Most of all, experiment and have fun with it."

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