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Maker Feature: Nantucket Coffee Roasters

Maker Feature: Nantucket Coffee Roasters

The Maker: Wes Van Cott
The Place: Nantucket, MA
The Goods: Coffee Beans
Where to Find Seaweaver: Pip as well as all over Nantucket and direct order from his website
What We Carry: The Pip Blend, a medium roast

Change. A polarizing conversation at best sometimes on Nantucket but there are a few things that we KNOW we can all agree on that we don't want to change. Like the chopped salad at Languedoc or the Lobster Roll at Sea Grille. Another thing we can probably all agree on is that we never really want that first cup of coffee in the morning routine to change. Our featured maker this month, Wes Van Cott from Nantucket Coffee Roasters, knows this well and one thing on Nantucket that hasn't changed in 30 years that you probably never even knew about - the roasting machine Wes uses to make his island-iconic blends and single bean roasts.
Over thirty years ago, after watching the way the original Green Mountain Roasters in Portland, Maine was getting freshly roasted coffees out the door, Wes purchased a roaster and started roasting coffee beans on Nantucket: before he even had the first customer.
It didn't take long to get those customers once he started handing out samples on around town. From those early days, Wes has created blend after blend that many now equate with quintessential morning perfection on Nantucket. He has also opened and closed his beloved coffee shop in two downtown locations as well as allowed us to all vicariously travel the world through his selection of coffee beans. He has come to know a place through the structure and expression of the beans - the altitude, the average temperature, the notes of flower or chocolate on the palate. Language and expression of place that may sound familiar to those who think about wine but also apply to coffee even if we do dump sugar, milk and pumpkin spice into some of them....

A Chat with Wes Van Cott and the Nantucket Coffee Roasters Story

Wes's 'Nantucket as home' funnily enough dates back to the 60's when his father was hired as pastry chef for the season at the Gordon Folger Hotel (James A Folger, the founder of Folgers Coffee, having Nantucket origins and relatives). They returned again in the early 70's when his father was hired to be the pastry chef for the Beineke properties. After this initial Nantucket time on the island with his family, a not too long and not too circuitous route led Wes back to Nantucket via Maine, where he had witnessed the success and popularity of Green Mountain Roasters. Wes had made his way back to the island with some ideas about the potential for coffee and Nantucket and while he knew it could be tough to make a go of a business on Nantucket, his interest in roasting coffee and the opportunity he saw on Nantucket, brought him out to San Francisco for a weekend crash course in roasting followed by the purchase of a roaster and the subsequent roasting of the first batch. As what seems like the ultimate combination of savvy and luck, Wes has embedded good coffee into the cornerstone of many island businesses (including Pip!) since the 80s when Nantucket became home.
Do you work with the same farmers every year?
It varies country to country with Kenya being the most unique in that most of their coffee is sold through auction houses and it is a bidding process. I work with a great broker and ultimately am looking for beans with the 'right' profile for each of my blends. Sometimes where the beans come from for a blend may change but ultimately it is the overall quality and the flavor profile that I am looking for.

Light roast? Medium Roast? Dark Roast?
Light roast is where you get the purest expression of the beans and some beans, ones with more floral notes, are really suited to a light roast. While some beans and blends are suited to a dark roast, much of the time a dark roast is used to hide imperfections in the beans so they may be a lower quality and may not have the complexity of flavor that you would typically get in a bean that is a light or medium roast.
If you could only drink coffee from one region or country, what would it be?
" I would not want to live in that world but if I really HAD to choose, it would be Ethiopia"
Lastly, how did you choose the beans that go into the blend you made for Pip?
"I had something that I knew Chris and Mayumi would like so I brought it over".
- As a side note to this, the fact that he found a blend intuitively that he knew Chris and Mayumi would like but also found a blend that all THREE of us like, is the true sign of a master and connoisseur.

Photos from Nantucket Coffee Roasters and Yesterday's Island

Contact Info:
Wes Van Cott
Nantucket, MA
Instagram: @nantucketcoffee

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