When the search for a space in which to launch the Yup Coffee Roasters wholesale business concluded in a building on the banks of an idyllic stretch of the Mill River in the Northampton village of Florence, in Western Massachusetts, co-founders Matt and Liza Bousquet realized they couldn’t limit the space to themselves.
“Our initial intention was to be strictly wholesale, so the retail was an afterthought that happened because we landed in such a pretty spot,” Matt Bousquet recently told Daily Coffee News. “We thought people might just seek us out for a cup of coffee and a bagel on their way to work, sort of a grab-and-go that might help to pay our rent while we are trying to build some wholesale accounts.”
The company now takes pride in having company, as it were, offering retail coffee service within its shaded riverside hideaway. Patrons with a moment to spare have the opportunity to sample and learn about coffee through Chemex pourover tastings, while those just looking for a cup are offered Fetco batch brew and cold coffee options, all ground by a Mahlkonig EK43 grinder. Yup-goers can also take in the sights, smells and sounds of coffee roasting on Yup’s 15-kilo Joper machine.
As it is situated in what the city has classified as a flood zone, the machine and its electrical work are required to be elevated off the floor by a certain height, although Bousquet isn’t actually concerned about leaks or floods in the winter, or any other river-related repurcussions.
“The building is 80 years old and has never flooded, so hopefully it will not any time soon,” said Bousquet. “It can get loud, especially after a lot of rain, but on an average day you can open the windows and hear it going by at a pleasant volume. The river mostly affects my mood when I’m roasting — positively.”
The company stores its greens sourced by Royal Coffee New York sealed inside wine barrels that are lined with 50-gallon mylar bags, with little to no exposure to air or light. The building itself is also relatively hidden away, which Bousquet considers a part of its appeal.
“You cannot see the shop from the road, which we think is part of the hook,” said Bousquet. “Once people figure out where we are, they have a secret spot.”
The Bousquets transformed the previously foreboding, derelict industrial building into a charming destination with help from Liza Bousquet’s father, a retired building designer. Of the 1,400-square-foot building, the retail area takes up about one fifth, according to Bousquet, with 16-foot ceilings, an oak coffee bar, and a live edge counter by windows overlooking the river.
“Because the shop is removed from the road, there’s no noise from traffic, just the sound of the river, and of course an espresso machine would change that dynamic,” said Liza Bousquet. “Instead, we’re focusing on creating relationships with cafes and restaurants that serve our coffee as espresso. But we are planning to add an espresso machine in the back of the shop for tastings.”
Yup’s roasting operation is informed by Matt Bousquet’s prior experiences roasting both on Jopers and on fluid-bed roasters, mixed with his perspective from over a decade as a line cook and baker.
“You’ve got to find that sweet spot with any bean, and then bring it out and play with it,” said Bousquet. “I attended Vermont School of Coffee in Waterbury which was pretty cool, but I’m mostly self taught. I feel like I understand how to apply heat to make things taste good in a lot of different ways. I feel, perhaps naively, that I can bring that awareness into the way I roast coffee.”
Yup Coffee Roasters is open now at 296 Nonotuck Street in Northampton.
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.