Chris Molieri always wanted to do good in the world. After graduating from Temple University with a finance degree, Chris went to work in Portland for a community development financial institution, or CDFI, a nonprofit devoted to helping entrepreneurs access capital. It was there that he discovered the world of micro-roasting. After returning to his home town, Chris and his brother Tom decided to secure their own $10,000 loan from a CDFI and Green Street got its start.
The other day I found myself at their roasting facility in the Point Breeze section of South Philly. Down a side street I went following the sound of Jack White blasting out of their stereo.
The space is tiny. Theres an old La Marzacco as soon as you walk in, and their small Ambex roaster takes up the center with coffee beans waiting to be roasted and bagged. It reminds me of a Bordeaux Garagiste, there’s bearly enough room for Chris and roaster John Jenson to work. Production is about 500-700 pounds per week, tiny compared to say La Colombe who roasts around 45,000 pounds weekly. But what they produce is remarkable given how new they are to the business. Green Street got its start in May 2011. Chris’s approach seems “balls to the wall” as he works to grow the business and, at the same time, make a difference in the lives of coffee farmers.
Sustainability is a crucial component to Green Street’s business plan. In addition to working with Direct Trade importers such as Coffee Shrub, the Molieri brothers are establishing their own Direct Trade relationships. They just recently returned from a sourcing trip in Nicaragua and plan on expanding their farm connections.
Jenson described their roasting style as in between the really light “first crack” profile that’s become de rigueur amongst many third wave coffee specialists and the dark roast that can strip coffee beans of its personality. It’s a really nice transitional approach that balances flavor with customer expectations.
Philadelphia’s coffee scene is exploding with new coffee entrepreneurs. Between the great shops and the influx of new roasters, Philly has become one of the leading caffeine destinations in the US. Although small in size, Green Street is quickly becoming a major player in this coffee renaissance.
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Green Street Coffee Roasters http://greenstreetcoffee.com