Confident founder and roaster Amber Dietrich now runs her Diedrich IR5 machine inside a roughly 1,600-square-foot space, about half of which houses the retail cafe, in the town of Johnson, just north of Fayetteville.
Dietrich told Daily Coffee News that the cafe opening comes a bit sooner than was originally planned for the company, which roasted its first batches in March of last year.
“It was my intention to build the roasting side of my business for a few years before jumping back into cafe operations, but COVID changed that,” Dietrich told DCN. “The majority of my sales were from offices, co-working spaces and cafes, so when the shutdown happened, I lost most of my business overnight.”
Prior to launching Confident, Dietrich built up her own confidence as a roaster through training under Todd Arnette, owner of Academy of Coffee Excellence, in 2017; then with Rocky Rhodes at the Diedrich facility in Ponderay, Idaho; and finally with a weeklong intensive course at the end of last year under Rob Hoos in Portland, Oregon.
Today she focuses on the specific characteristics of each origin, process and variety of bean sourced carefully through Atlas Coffee Importers, Cafe Imports and the Costa Rican, vertically integrated Farmers Project.
“I have a saying, ‘You can roast a good bean bad, but you can’t roast a bad bean good,'” said Dietrich. “That’s why it pays to be picky about the green coffee you source.”
Dietrich officially opened the cafe in October after forming a modern industrial style that may be softened over time.
“It has been a little difficult to balance ‘cozy’ and COVID, so I have erred on the side of safety and opened with mostly hard surfaces to start,” said Dietrich. “My main objective was to have unique elements that highlighted the work of other female artists.”
Dietrich commissioned painter Jessica Jones for a mural reading “Stay Awhile” on the shop’s main wall, and woodworker Rachel McClintock for a unique bathroom vanity as well as the shop’s waterfall countertops and triangular shelving.
That shelving separates the roastery from the coffee shop, where a Mahlkönig GH2 grinder preps beans for brewing on a Curtis Thermapro Gold Cup brewer and Fiorenzato grinders pair with a 3-group La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine.
Said Dietich, “[The GB5] is way more machine than we need for the space, but I don’t care; it’s gorgeous and it gives me a goal to grow into it.”
Dietrich’s desire to support women in business and in life also drove her to create Project Confidant, a volunteer organization made up of entrepreneurs, small business owners and various professionals providing guidance, mentorship and more to local youth.
“I created the initiative as a way for young women to see and be connected with women in leadership roles in our community, but I quickly realized that many young men needed the same type of guidance and connections as well,” said Dietrich. “There is an unrealistic pressure put on all of us to know what we want to do with our lives right out of high school, but very little insight is actually provided to help and guide us through those decisions. It is my goal to change that.”
Confident was also built for growth on the roastery side, with additional plumbing pre-installed and ready for whenever the next roaster is added to the production line. And with that growth will come more substantial annual donations to projects in places where coffee is grown, such as the new childcare facility built at Finca Zalmari in Costa Rica to which Confident directed 3.5% of total revenues last year.
“This year, with COVID, it has been really different and the most important thing I could do was honor the green commitments I had made to the farmers,” said Dietrich. “For now the project work has been put on hold as the farmers are also dealing with the ramifications of COVID and we have all agreed to pick things back up when we are all in a better position next year.”
Confident Coffee Roasters is now open at 2015 Main Drive in Fayetteville, Arkansas.