SHERMAN — A batch of coffee beans from southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America and Mexico has invigorated a new Route 37 cafe.

Sherman resident John Rich has turned a hobby of coffee roasting into a business with his organic and fair trade artisan coffees at Sacred Grounds Coffee Roasters in the Route 37 East plaza adjacent to Amore restaurant.

The business has taken off, with high sales before the holidays and Sacred Grounds coffees now offered at area markets. The Sherman IGA, Davis IGA in Kent, and Natural Market Place in New Milford, and Nature’s Temptations in Ridgefield carry three Sacred Grounds coffees: Supernatural (a dark roast, with a hint of chocolate and toasted almond); Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (with a hint of blueberry and milk chocolate); and Mexico Chiapas (medium roast with a hint of chocolate and brown sugar).

“I always had an interest in organically grown and fair trade coffees,” Rich said. “Practices of farms in developing countries that aren’t fair trade are often to use a lot of slave labor and child labor. I don’t want to support that. Fair trade dovetails into organic with sustainable agricultural practices used on these farms.”

Rich uses a Sedona Elite Roaster, an infa-red roaster that can roast seven pounds of coffee at a time. He can roast 200 pounds of coffee beans a day. When business increases, he plans to purchase a second roaster.

“The infa-red roasters are favored by small roasting companies,” Rich explained. “They produce less acidic roasts and roast the beans evenly.”

Marc Audette stopped by Sacred Grounds recently to see what the day’s specials were.

“We love the smell of the house in the morning with coffee brewing from a local roaster,” Audette said. “I like the fair trade and organic aspects of John’s coffees very much. Sacred Grounds was a great place to buy holiday gifts.”

Mike Luzi, owner of Sherman IGA, said he tried Sacred Grounds coffees and was impressed.

“Sales of the coffees is doing great,” Luzi said. “John is a great asset to the town. Having a new business keeping everyone shopping local is a plus. I’ve personally tried the coffees I’m carrying and they’re fantastic. I’m happy to carry them.”

Rich earned a degree in Communication and Media at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. After graduation, he worked for NBC for awhile and then in some media start-ups in the mid to late 1990s. Eventually, he went into Real Estate with his brother and when they sold their business, he began looking for another business venture.

“I did a lot of research about coffee roasting as a business,” Rich said. “I decided to focus on creating a coffee brand. Doing home roasting, I already bought beans from a broker. Now I’m buying 150 pounds at a time.”

Sacred Grounds Coffee Roasters, 1 Route 37 East, Unit 1, Sherman is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Phone: 860-717-2871.

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