Belle Isle Moonshine

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Happy Hour With Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Company

Richmond, ConversationBICS Admin

Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. was founded by David Blanchard in January of 2005. Passionate about great coffee, David saw a need for more of it in Richmond. He started the business by selling his wife’s graduation present - a Toyota 4Runner - to buy a small Ambex coffee roaster and set up in his dad’s garage. His coffee soon got some good press and was picked up by Ukrop's, and the company has been growing ever since. We recently visited Blanchard's ten-person team at the company's Westwood Ave roasting lab where Director of Marketing Stephen Robertson treated us to a tour and some seriously tasty coffee.

What do you do and why?
Blanchard’s is a wholesale craft coffee roaster. We roast thoughtfully sourced coffees from around the world for brewers, retailers, and coffee enthusiasts throughout the U.S. Our goal is to create a vibrant and resilient connection from farm to cup that honors the best qualities of each coffee we roast - and then give each of our customers, from coffee shops to individual brewers, the education and tools they need to brew a great cup of coffee every single time.

Tell us about your space.
We moved into 1903 Westwood Avenue in November of 2015 - our third production space since the company began. For the first time, we were able to plan, design, and build a space that is perfectly suited for our daily production, our client training, and our thriving event schedule.

An open warehouse area houses our two production roasters and sample roaster, as well as our green coffee storage and packaging line. At the head of our production space, we have built a welcoming retail space for walk-in bean customers and visitor welcome. Attached to the open warehouse space is our 1000 sq/ft Training Lab and event space where we have two full coffee shop equipment packages set up in a classroom space to host our existing and potential clients for training, as well as hosting events, both related to coffee and not.

The best part about our space is the abundance of large windows to let in great sunlight and keep the space feeling large and open, even when there are a lot of people inside.
Outside of normal production, we host regular events and guests in our space. Even if only loosely connected to coffee. We strive to create community in everything we do - community that is built on a foundation of good people and good coffee.

If your company was a cocktail, what would the ingredients be?
Tough question. My first inclination would be to say that we are a well aged whiskey, served neat, in a familiar glass and a comfortable chair. We always try to take the pretense out of great coffee. There is a lot of science and artistry in what we do, and we put a lot of passion and experience into roasting the coffee you drink, but most people don’t want to have all that forced down their throat - they just want a great cup of coffee. A warming, soft, smoky whiskey feels to me the way I want people to feel when they open a bag of our coffee.

What does your company do “off the clock?”
We all have our own personal vibe outside of work - but we share a lot of loves as well. Music is a big part of our company culture, both on and off the clock. We always end up seeing each other at shows, or sometimes going together. We all appreciate great food, and most of us are animal lovers of some sort. 

As a company, we try to have some good outings as often as possible - whether it is a baseball game, company trip, dinner out - we all share a great deal of respect for each other.

What’s on your bar?
We don’t keep a full bar, but we often have gifted bar components. So right now, we have a few Belle Isle bottles hiding out. We have lots of friends in the beer world - so there is always a case or two of various beer in our cooler, hiding out with kegs of Hair of the Dog Cold Brew. We also have a strong appreciation for cheap American lager - so you’ll rarely find a time when there isn’t a case of Miller Lite or Coors Lite laying around - that really is the perfect end to a long production day around a hot coffee roaster.

I’m pretty sure if we kept a bottle of bourbon around the office, we’d never get anything done.

Photos by Alexander Kreher