You might have tried it at at Sugarbush or at Stowe’s top-of-the-mountain Octagon Cafe, or seen the iconic brown paper bags in markets. Now there’s a new reason to bring home this local brew.
Vermont Coffee Company is the first U.S. coffee roaster to use 100% renewable bio gas to roast its coffee. Both thermal and electric energy are sourced from renewable methane.
Vermont Coffee Company has been trying to get to this place—roasting coffee with 100% renewable energy—for a very long time. “Renewable electricity was the easy part,” said company founder and CEO, Paul Ralston. “The real challenge was getting a renewable thermal energy source to replace propane.” Methane is the input for both forms of renewable energy. Anaerobic digesters operated by Addison County dairy farms extract valuable methane gas from cow manure and convert it into electricity. Known as Cow Power, this renewable energy source is delivered by Green Mountain Power. The source for the company’s renewable biogas is methane recovered from a Quebec-based engineered landfill operated by EBI Énergie Inc. and delivered by Vermont Gas Company.
Before making the conversion to 100% renewables, Vermont Coffee Company implemented a multi-year investment to make its roastery more energy efficient. “It’s hard to believe,” said Ralston, “but we reduced the amount of fuel used to roast a pound of coffee by more than 70%, and electric consumption per pound has also been reduced dramatically.” Energy efficiencies have come from adopting new roasting technology and modifying roasting processes.
“The capital investment to upgrade our roasters was significant,” said Ralston, “but our first responsibility is efficiency, and increased efficiency makes the higher cost of renewable energy less of an issue. Renewable bio-energy costs more to produce, and we voluntarily pay a premium price to our suppliers for the renewables we consume. It’s important that we invest in better technology so we’re not passing our higher utility costs on to our customers.”
Moving to renewable energy is very much in line with the company’s philosophy. “Our mission is ‘Coffee Roasted for Friends,’” said Ralston, “and our customers care that our coffee is 100% certified organic. We believe they’ll be excited that our energy now comes from 100% renewable sources.”
About Vermont Coffee Company
Vermont Coffee Company is a small-town roaster located in Middlebury, Vermont. The big flavor and complex character of its certified-organic coffees are highlights of a unique style of slow-roasting beans in small batches—a process that founder Paul Ralston has perfected since the company began roasting commercially in 2000. Its organic coffee is sold in chain grocery stores, local markets and food co-ops throughout the Northeast. Products are also sold nationally via the company’s online store.
- In 2018 the company is 18 years old.
- Founder Paul Ralston started roasting coffee in 1979.
- In 2000 Vermont Coffee Company began roasting and distributing coffee to retail and wholesale customers.
- The company is privately held.
- There are 35 employees.
- The roastery is located in Middlebury, Vermont.
- All coffee is 100% certified organic.
- Vermont Coffee Company’s coffee is sold in chain grocery stores, local markets and food co-ops throughout the Northeast including Hannaford’s, Market Basket, Shaw’s, Big Y and Costco.
- Products are sold nationally via the company’s online store.