According to recent statistics, more than 54 percent of Americans drink coffee daily, which may be why we celebrate National Coffee Day on Sept. 29 each year. Coffee drinking residents of Fairfax County have even more to celebrate: their own local, independently owned coffee roaster/coffee house in Annandale.
Named Beanetics, this coffee roasting business may get little press, but since its opening more than 5 years ago, the shop’s customer base has grown exponentially, spurred on by word-of-mouth raves, the owners’ presence at the Falls Church City farmers market, and their charitable donations to schools and community groups. And credit for this thriving business goes to Amy and David Starr, who turned their passion for freshly roasted beans into Beanetics.
“David used to roast coffee in our garage for years,” said Amy, who noted that their full-time careers elsewhere prevent them from being at Beanetics themselves. “We would roast for clients, and once we got started we realized you couldn’t get anything like this anywhere else. No one else was doing this.”
Of course, roasting coffee is not really an everyday skill, but the Starrs purchased an American-made coffee roaster, then David took a coffee-roasting class. “He went to a class in Idaho,” she said, “and they taught him how to do it. Our machine is computerized, so it was easy to work.” She added that a lot of the success in coffee roasting depends on both art and nuance, learning how long to roast and then to drop beans.
Harboring the idea of opening a business, the Starrs attended coffee industry shows, particularly Coffee Fest, a trade show geared to retail businesses such as coffee shops, and to industry trade shows where roasters and green wholesalers congregate. “So if we started out,” Amy said. “We thought we know how to make good coffee, and we could just roast more and sell the coffee at farmers markets.”
Instead, the Starrs found a location in Annandale, one where the landlords loved the idea of a coffee retail business. To get the business launched, the Starrs ended up hiring staff and teaching them how to roast coffee beans. “We found a woman through craigslist, a former coffee roaster from Albuquerque,” she said.
“That helped us get started and to train others. So now we have two roasters and we are getting a third part-time. These are folks who are really learning the nuance of the roasting business.”
Purists to the end, Amy Starr explained that they purchase their coffee beans from importers, with beans coming from Costa Rica, South America, Africa, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and elsewhere. Indonesian coffees have an earthiness, she explained. South American is a little brighter, and African, fruitier. “Ethiopian coffee has a blueberry tone,” she said.
And if you expect flavored coffee beans, you won’t find them at Beanetics. “We do not flavor our coffee,” Amy said. “Then there is no reason to have good coffee beans. I believe that when people flavor coffee, it hides the actual coffee flavor. For us, the coffee flavor is what is coming out of that bean, whether it is chocolate, caramel, fruity or bright.”
Beanetics Coffee Roasters, 7028 Columbia Pike, Annandale, Va. 703-941-4506. Open daily. https://www.beanetics.com/.