Introducing specialty coffee to markets in rural New Mexico is an endeavor some companies might approach like a journey into darkness, but for Candlestick Coffee Roasters, the path ahead is bright.
“We are getting great response from our local crowd to more ‘third wave’ specialty coffee,” Candlestick Coffee Owner Zach Smith told Daily Coffee News. “People seem to really enjoy trying new coffees with different flavor profiles, which has been really fun to explore.”
The Corrales, New Mexico-based roasting company, which started up in July of this year just north of Albuquerque, sources its high-quality green coffees through Cafe Imports and La Bodega prior to roasting on a 3-kilo-capacity machine from Mill City Roasters. The beans are then brewed manually over the tasting room bar and served with an understanding that the value proposition is still a new one to the largely untapped market.
“Our ‘tip what you can’ to-go counter has really helped with this,” said Smith. “If someone comes in, we’re going to make them something whether they have a few bucks or not. I think this frees people up to want to try new things without the pressure of, ‘crap, I just spent $5 on this pourover and I hate it.”
The tasting room occupies less than half of the three-room, 725-square-foot Candlestick building. Yet in keeping with the image set forth by the company’s name, Smith said Candlestick strives for a warm and inviting vibe all around.
“Our vision for the tasting room is pretty simple — inviting, minimalist, modern Southwest,” said Smith. “We still have a lot we want to do in there, but we move and grow as cash allows.”
Still in its opening stretch, the company’s primary focus remains direct-to-consumer sales around Corrales, with wholesale offerings available on a limited basis due to production capacity. Walk-ins, online sales and shelf space in stores around Corrales and the nearby cities of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque will therefore pave the way forward.
“Right now we are hyper-focused on learning what people want, slow steady growth, and roasting really good coffee for all palates,” said Smith, noting that the company also considers its coffee a segue the moves customers on to other important things. “Our slogan ‘share your light’ is all about doing good things in the world, in your day to day, whatever that looks like. If we can create a brand that excites people to go spread some love and light around then we’ve done our job.”
Candlestick Coffee Roasters is now open at 4940 Corrales Rd., Suite 500, in Corrales, New Mexico.
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.