Solitary coffee can be productive and pleasurable, though the best coffee experiences are often the shared ones. ShareWell Coffee Co. in Hendersonville, N.C., hopes to spread its coffee around to as many enjoyers as possible, although it’s not only the coffee the company intends to share. It’s also the wealth.
Co-founder Zach Pritz has just laid the ink on the first monthly check ShareWell intends to deliver, amounting to 10 percent of the company’s profit. Each donation will go to a different small, local charity or other perhaps less formal recipient. “This month will be for a family we know that was affected by the flood in Louisiana,” Pritz told Daily Coffee News. “Next month will go towards the forest fire devastation up here in western North Carolina.”
It’s an intimate spirit of giving befitting the intimacy with which he entered the industry. “It’s probably not going to be really big, known charities that we’re giving to. It will be more on a basis of whatever needs come up,” said Pritz, whose first coffee job was at his brother’s company, Mountaineer Coffee in Central Florida. Later his roasting education came while on the job at RoosRoast Coffee in Ann Arbor, Mich., although he’s since stepped away from the mighty 35-kilo Loring at RoosRoast to start his own business with his wife, Candice, centered on a 4-pound capacity Arizona roaster acquired through Buckeye Coffee.
Apart from the product and proceeds, production space is another shared matter at ShareWell, which has operated since its October 2016 launch in the back of the Mi Amore Café, an Italian restaurant in Hendersonville. “It’s tight quarters, but it’s working,” said Pritz. “It’s allowing us to be able to do what we need to do.”
Starting small was always part of the plan according to Pritz. “I didn’t want to take out a huge investment and get our own space right off the bat,” he said of the business that’s currently getting the lion’s share of its beans through Coffee Shrub, with a bit from Royal New York and Cafe Imports, as well. When roasting them, Pritz said that he’d not concerned at all with what color it ends up, as long as it lands in what he considers to be the bean’s “sweet spot.”
“That’s what I’m always searching for, and it varies with each bean. Each bean might have a couple of those spots that I think bring out different flavors and notes and all that that bean has to offer,” said Pritz, adding that a coffee package description focused more on flavor notes as opposed to roast degree is new for a lot of people in the Hendersonville market. To counter this, ShareWell does offer a spectrum of roasts, including some on the darker side, to ensure local customers can find something familiar among their selection.
“If people ask, we’ll guide them to what we think they’ll like the best,” said Pritz, noting that these darker options are still the coincidental result of extensive sampling and experimenting, not the result of a search specifically for a bean that does well in a dark roast, per se.
As 2016 draws to a close, Pritz said that they’d have a better idea of the future after the holiday season comes and goes, though their tentative goal is to achieve their own dedicated roastery space within about six months. He hopes that it’s a space that will accommodate public cuppings and consumer coffee education. Until then, they’ll continue to grow the operation organically via online sales, a bit of wholesale and occasional events and pop-ups.
“We crank out French presses,” Pritz said of the ShareWell pop-up brewing m.o., admitting that in certain situations it can be a tricky method to manage. “If I had my own spot, I probably would not do it with French presses. But right now we’re just making it happen.”