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DIY roasting

It’s super-trendy right now for serious coffee cafes to roast their own green beans. But Coffee Times Coffee House in Lexington, KY, has been roasting in-house since 1983.

“Back then, people didn’t understand the importance of freshness,” recalls owner and founder Terri Wood. “People would come in, saying, ‘I don’t know what it is about your coffee, but it’s good.’ The fact that the beans are fresh makes a vast difference in the cup.”

Because of the roasting process—part of the business is a wholesale operation—Coffee Times had to open in an industrial zone, which wasn’t then the most desirable retail area. Customers had to follow their noses to the café. “The quality of our coffee drew customers,” says Wood.

Customers can watch the roaster in action via a window in the 50-seat espresso bar, with a small food menu. One of this summer’s strongest sellers was a proprietary Iced Hazelnuccino ($3.75), made with Hazelnut French Roast coffee, which is served hot in the winter.

The business also includes a retail store selling 100 different types of coffee by the pound and 60 different loose teas as well as brewing paraphernalia. The café has started hosting events such as art shows and music, which has boosted business, especially now that the neighborhood has become trendier.

“We are really into blending different varieties, offering customers a product that they can’t get elsewhere,” says Wood of the establishment’s appeal. “If customers like our blends they have to come back to us. We get repeat business because of that.”

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