Bags of beans have popped up alongside the many bottles at Gladheart Wine & Brews in Roanoke, Virginia, courtesy of a new roasting operation led by coffee competitor and roaster Phillip Hatter.
“We wanted to add a small coffee roasting operation from the beginning, since that was my background for the last 10 years,” said Hatter, who bought and renamed the bottle shop last year with business partner Jayson Anuszkiewicz.
With Anuszkiewicz also occupied as a full-time firefighter, Hatter maintains day-to-day shop operations, engaging guests in conversations in both coffee and wine.
“There are wines with big acidities, like a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, and in coffee there are big acidities like washed Ethiopias or some Colombias,” said Hatter. “It’s fun to play in both worlds, and it helps to describe those qualities to customers. Most folks don’t think about coffee or wine like that, but they do run parallel tracks.”
Previously an account manager and trainer for Floyd, Virginia-based Red Rooster Coffee, Hatter was a top 10 finisher in the 2017 US Brewers Cup coffee competition. In 2019, he coached another competitor who reached the top 10.
“I feel like the wine and the coffee are cross-training,” said Hatter. “As someone who has had to understand coffee from a sensory perspective, the wine has been a breath of fresh air. The aromas and tastes are so immediate and in your face.”
After dabbling with roasting on home equipment, Hatter’s professional roasting skills were honed as director of coffee at Vienna Coffee Company in Maryville, Tennessee.
Said Hatter, “I got to visit a variety of farms and estates, as well as make some great friends.”
That coffee experience is now being applied at Gladheart, where a 3-kilo-capacity roasting machine from Mill City Roasters sits in an onsite roasting room.
Said Hatter, “We originally planned to roast on it for five years before upgrading, but due to the unexpectedly good reception of the coffee, and the demand, it may be more like a two-year plan.”
As a roasting company, Gladheart is striving to put forth balanced and approachable coffees that also exhibit distinguishing characteristics related to where coffee is grown and its post-harvest processing.
“Over the years I’ve experienced a change in my coffee appreciation and roasting style,” Hatter told Daily Coffee News. “I have loved the wild, natural-processed coffees, or the ‘unicorns’ as I call them. But I’ve also come to appreciate a more balanced coffee that the majority of coffee consumers enjoy. So Gladheart’s coffee philosophy is to appeal to that broader audience.”