A peaceful transition of powerful coffee production has occurred in Columbus, Ohio, as Roosevelt Coffee Roasters has relocated its roasting operation.
Moving from one stately industrial facility in Franklinton to another in a historic Hilltop bank building, the socially enterprising midwestern coffee company is now turning out beans from its Loring S15 roaster alongside a neighboring business in the building, Kennedy Used Books.
The new roughly 2,000-square-foot space for coffee production boasts a more open layout than Roosevelt’s previous digs, with ceilings that reach nearly twice as high.
“Before, we stuffed our work areas into wherever they would fit, but there was no good flow. Now there is,” Roosevelt Coffee Founder Kenny Sipes told Daily Coffee News. “It is beautiful to have an open layout. We are no longer restricted by low ceilings and random building support posts in the middle of a room.”
The new floor plan allows the company to more comfortably organize the operation into four stations: roasting; packaging; breaks, meetings and brewing; and a mezzanine for the offices of the for-profit roastery and its two nonprofit social enterprise cafes.
The new building is owned by an investment group whose membership includes fellow social entrepreneur John Rush. Rush is the owner of Third Way Cafe, a five-year-old Hilltop neighborhood coffee shop that serves Roosevelt’s coffees while providing employment opportunities for the previously incarcerated.
Rush is also in part behind Kennedy Used Books, located in the front area of the bank building, which now boasts of being the “largest, best-smelling used book store in Columbus.” The bookstore will also provide opportunities for people returning from incarceration, while additionally finding ways to support prison library systems, Columbus libraries and local literacy programs.
Currently running “pop-up hours” three days per week, the bookstore eventually intends to host talks by local authors and provide space for community members to work, read, hang out, and potentially drink coffee, though Sipes said Roosevelt does not intend to run retail coffee service on site.
“People are more than welcome to look into the roastery, but it’s built for functionality and not necessarily for tours yet,” said Sipes. “The coffeehouses are starting to find their way back post-pandemic. It’s been a struggle. Every day is unpredictable, but this city has done nothing but its best to support us along the way. We are humbly grateful.”
In the meantime Sipes said Roosevelt Coffee Roasters will be developing new cold brew products for home brewing and pursuing more licensed retail opportunities in partnership with other companies around Columbus.
Meanwhile, the umbrella nonprofit that runs the for-profit Roosevelt Coffee Roasters and the nonprofit Roosevelt Coffeehouse shops, the Roosevelt Foundation, will continue to offer financial support to nonprofits that are working to address hunger, human trafficking, healthcare and water cleanliness.
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.