PAWTUCKET — There are coffee drinkers who describe their favorite brew as “regular” or “light with two sugars.” Then there are others whose assessment would go something like this: “a heavy, syrupy body and flavors of brown sugar and crème brulee give way to nectarine acidity and a clean, dry grapefruit finish.”
For those in the latter category of caffeine consumption, New Harvest Coffee Roasters is truly “cool beans.” The artisan coffee roastery, located in Hope Artiste Village, sells its select coffees wholesale to food markets, bakeries, restaurants and coffee shops. However, the company goes beyond order fulfillment to education and training—and a desire to teach the world how to make a great cup of coffee.
New Harvest was founded in 2000 by Rik Kleinfeldt and Paula Anderson. Kleinfeldt knew more than a thing or two about java, having spent nine years as manager of the Coffee Exchange on Wickenden Street in Providence. He began his own coffee company in a humble shed on the site of the old Washburn Wire factory in Rumford, and six years later moved to a much larger space inside the Hope Artiste mill at 1005 Main St. in Pawtucket.
Today, New Harvest produces about 6,000 pounds of coffee a week from its bright and modern suite of renovated office space. Two large roasting machines occupy a main room, while in an adjacent space, the packaging and labeling is done. Here, a rack holds rolls of labels, some featuring the unique blend names such as “Cafe Marika” and “Franny's Breakfast Blend” (named for Kleinfeldt and Anderson's daughters) and the “Cycledrome” and “Streamroller” varieties, based on now-defunct Rhode Island icons. “My two-and-a-half year-old son doesn't have a blend named after him yet, but I'm sure that will come,” Kleinfeldt joked.
As stated on his website, Kleinfeldt notes that every step of the coffee-making process, from growing to processing to harvesting to roasting and finally to brewing—requires care, attention and most of all, passion, about the end result. He seeks out small farms where a direct relationship can be formed with the growers and a dialogue can take place about the expectations for the coffee that will be eventually be roasted.
New Harvest's facility, which employs 13, includes a repair shop for coffee machines and espresso makers. It also features something more unusual—a woodshop--where, in the spirit of sustainability, the company recycles wooden pallets into serving counters and other cafe furniture. “We try to re-use as much as we can,” Kleinfeldt says, noting that much of the office is furnished with the recycled pallet designs.
Kleinfeldt is proud to show off his spacious Training Center. Here, food service employees (or coffee enthusiasts) are taught the inside secrets of how to make the optimal cup of coffee, espresso, cappuccino or latte. For some, this means learning the proper way to use an industrial-style espresso/cappuccino maker while others focus on the art of smaller-scale manual brewing with a pour-over dripper or a French press.
The Training Center is where New Harvest holds a “public coffee cupping” almost every Friday at 3 p.m. and the first Saturday of every month at 1 p.m. Similar to a wine tasting, these free events offer a chance for people to sample the various blends and java jive about their likes and dislikes.
At the entrance to New Harvest is a coffee take-out station, which also features pastry items from another local business, Seven Stars Bakery. The coffee bar, open 8 a.m to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, is popular with the other tenants of Hope Artiste Village and members of the local community.
Kleinfledt notes that there are many variables involved with coffee-making, ranging from the type of roast and consistency of the grind to the quality of water and the length of time the coffee is left standing in a thermal container. The lessons include the finer points of barista training, such as how long to steam the milk for a cappuccino to creating an artistic swirl on the surface of a latte.
When asked about his own idea of the “perfect” cup of coffee, Kleinfeldt says it is one made with a light roast from Kenya or Ethiopia (he likes the acidic, fruity flavors from these beans) by the pour-over dripper method of a Chemex carafe-style coffeemaker.
This fall, Kleinfeldt will plunge into a new venture: a restaurant that will occupy the refurbished Arcade building in downtown Providence. Called New Harvest Coffee & Spirits, the eatery will feature signature coffees and teas, sandwiches and pastries from Seven Stars Bakery, along with handcrafted whiskeys, beer and wine.
Kleinfeldt says he is excited about the project, and if successful, would consider adding additional locations. “We just thought it was an interesting pairing, our coffees and high quality, small batch whiskeys,” he said. He also intends to showcase the beer made locally by Foolproof Brewing, the Bucket Brewery, and other local vendors. The eatery is schedule to open on Sept. 1.
For more information on New Harvest Coffee Roasters products or server training classes, visit their website at www.newharvestcoffee.com .
Follow Donna Kirwan on Twitter@KirwanDonna