National skill at the local level
PITTSFIELD >> Thomas and Julia Doyle have taken skills from the West Coast that they honed in New York and transported them to the Berkshires.
The Doyles recently opened Assembly Coffee Roasters, a small independent coffee roasting business, at 814 East St.
Thomas Doyle, who grew up in Southern California, is a former head roaster and operations manager for Blue Bottle Coffee in Oakland.
Following a stint with Blue Bottle in the Bay Area, the company sent him to New York to open the firm's east coast roastery in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
Julia Doyle, who is originally from the Greenfield area, was the principal partner of DCR LLC, a New York City based commercial design and contracting company. The couple met when Blue Bottle hired Doyle's company to design and build its Brooklyn facility.
Move out of city
After working together in New York for awhile, "we decided to go out on our own and have our own place where the quality of life was good," Julia said. "That's what led us to the Berkshires."
The couple arrived in the Berkshires in late 2011.
"I'm a Massachusetts native," Julia said. "I had always had my eye on this area. What particularly attracted us to Pittsfield was the available commercial space. Coffee roasters need a certain amount of space.
"The great thing about the Berkshires is that it's equidistant from Boston and New York," she added. "As far as the shipping lanes are concerned it's a great place to be without being in a major urban environment."
The Doyles financed their venture with private capital, and received assistance from both 1Berkshire and Steve Fogel of Berkshire Enterprises in developing their business plan. They spent around $35,000 on renovations and equipment, converting a giant refrigerator into a coffee roaster.
They roast micro batches of speciality coffee at their facility. which is located across East Street from the MountainOne Financial Center.
"We're predominately wholesale," Julia said, "although we do some custom roasting for restaurants and bed and breakfasts."
They also retail the coffee they produce at farmers' markets in Lee, Lenox and Pittsfield, and operate their own webstore.
In addition, the Doyles provide barrista training for coffee shop staff, conduct roasting training sessions, and provide cafe consulting for those interested in entering the business.
The coffee the Doyles receive comes to them in its green uncooked form. They work mostly with a New Jersey coffee importer who has worked with them for most of his career.
"We really focus on doing customized roasts for our wholesale clients," she said. "Being able to tailor something specifically to a restaurant dessert menu for example creates a lasting experience beneficial to a to wholesale client's clientele."
The Doyles are the company's only employees. The company's hours "change every week," Julia said, but they are open every Wednesday morning. For more information, go to www.assemblycoffeeroasters.com.
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