Reverie Coffee Roasters building wholesale business, walk-in traffic

11/13/2013 4:19 PM

11/14/2013 6:49 AM

The owners of Reverie Coffee Roasters quickly discovered that opening at the leisurely hour of 10 a.m. – like many retailers – wasn’t going to work.

Not when customers clamored for a hot, dark jolt on their way to work or other early morning activities. The 5-month-old business now opens at 7 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. on Saturday.

“I had no idea the cafe would be so successful,” said Andrew Gough, who owns Reverie along with his wife, Katie, and business partner Rebecca McNelly.

Gough and McNelly originally thought the bulk of their profits would come from being a wholesale supplier to restaurants, institutions and other customers. That’s still the business model, but Gough says nearly half of Reverie’s revenue comes from walk-in traffic.

Gough said he became interested in coffee after getting to know Noel Keyes, who ran Corsair Coffee in Wichita for several years. McNelly has spent eight years in the trade as a barista and roaster.

The pair were kicking around ideas for the business last winter when a good deal on a commercial roaster presented itself.

“We jumped at it, which kind of put the cart before the horse and sped up our business a little bit,” Gough said. “Then we started the process of finding a place.”

The roaster uses infrared burners to roast up to 44 pounds of coffee beans at once.

The partners settled on a 3,000-square-foot space that had been built as a pharmacy and most recently housed a thrift store. Gough and McNelly kept the painted tin ceiling but otherwise gutted the place, exposing brick walls and putting in hardwood floors.

The roaster occupies a prominent spot, although it’s too noisy to run during business hours. Bags of green coffee beans imported from around the world line one wall. About half the building is used for storage, packaging and other behind-the-scenes work. A coffee bar, seating and a variety of coffee-related merchandise take up the rest.

Reverie currently offers six single-origin coffees – from Mexico, Colombia, Sumatra, Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia – as well as three blends and all the usual specialty coffee drinks.

There’s not a standard coffeemaker in use on the premises. Instead, Reverie’s baristas use methods including cold brewing, vacuum brewing and “pour over” brewing to make coffee. The shop also carries a full line of Monin syrups.

Reverie has been steadily growing its wholesale business and now counts Cocoa Dolce, Watermark Cafe, Caffe Moderne, Anna Murdoc’s and R Coffeehouse among clients. Beverage catering and coffeemaker sales are other avenues of business.

Gough, who calls coffee “the most complex beverage in the world,” had a cupping table built so wholesale customers could sample and recognize the differences between, say, a dark roast Sumatran coffee and a lighter brew from Ethiopia. A dozen factors ranging from climate to growing elevation to soil influence each cup, Gough said.

“A big part of our business is education and training,” he said. “We want to get you a lot closer to the product so you can have a better time selling it.”

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