Monday, August 29, 2011

Blanchard's Coffee Co. is Hiring!

Guess what folks, its that time again!
In the past few months we've been growing fast and seeing lots of changes in the BCC team, beginning with Tom Thorogood moving on to bigger things and leaving us with his delicious Swan Song. Next we said bon voyage to Jonathan Lesko as he sailed off to an island off of West Africa with the Peace Corps. We were joined during the summer by Seth Bauserman whose steady pace, good tunes and expertise on the roaster gave us the time we needed to get our new Roast Master, Josh Taylor, fully acclimated to the complex art/science of coffee roasting.
Now that Josh has his sea-legs, so to speak, its time to get the Blanchard's ship running at full steam. We are producing a LOT of coffee so we need some more hands. We're posting the job description for a Production Assistant below, so if you're interested, give us a shout.

A few notes to preface: Working in the Roasting Lab is often dirty, hard work. There is a lot of lifting overhead and in awkward spaces. There is a good amount of smoke, a lot of heat and you will, more often than not, be covered in coffee. This is not to scare you away because the job is a heck of a lot of fun and you get to drink coffee all day, we just want everyone to understand that if you're not into getting some dirt under your nails, this probably isn't your ideal gig.

Blanchard’s Coffee Co. is seeking applicants for the position of Production Assistant.
The Production Assistant position carries a 25-35 hour per week schedule, depending on production volume.

The Production Assistant’s schedule is Monday-Friday beginning at 9:00am and ending when daily production is completed.

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

--Able to lift 60lbs over their head
--Reliable transportation to and from work
--Efficient and hard-working
--Clean driving record
--Coffee Lover
--Respectful of coworkers, superiors and company property
--Respectful of clients and other members of the community

Preferred qualifications:

--Coffee experience (coffee shop, restaurant, retailer etc)
--Interest in coffee education (roasting, brewing, cupping, barista training etc)
--Customer service experience
--Basic computer skills

The Production Assistant works directly with the Roast Master on a daily basis assisting with all tasks involved in producing and packaging coffee for wholesale accounts. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to inventory, labeling bags, batching and blending both green and roasted coffee, operating a weigh-and-fill machine, operating a belt and manual heat sealing machine, grinding coffee, packaging whole bean and ground coffee, answering the phone, delivering coffee, brewing coffee, Roast Lab cleanliness, equipment cleanliness, complying with USDA, VA Department of Agriculture, CCOF and Transfair guidelines for organic certification and quality control.

Blanchard’s Coffee Co. is growing and always hopes to give employees opportunities to grow as well. The Production Assistant will have the opportunity to learn coffee roasting techniques to support the Roast Master as well as overall coffee knowledge.

To apply, please email a resume and cover letter to

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Sometimes it is hard to keep this blog new and interesting because, quite frankly, we've got so much new and exciting stuff going on it usually gets swept by the wayside.
So what is keeping us so busy you ask? Well, here's a little update on what we're up to and some exciting news from the Blanchard's Coffee camp.

We've been growing as fast as we can, getting great new clients and helping some others grow.
Locally, we're providing coffee for the new localvore restaurant Selba which opened recently. It is absolutely gorgeous in there and Chef Abe has created an excellent menu.
We're excited that UofR is getting fired up again soon where we provide coffee for the Passport Cafe and Lou's. UofR is also launching a retail coffee program soon that will be roasted by Blanchards and sold on campus and in the up and coming downtown location.
Speaking of retail coffee, both Mamma Zu and Acacia offer their signature BCC blends in private-labeled retail bags so you can take some home after dinner!

Outside of Richmond we're really excited to be working with Para Coffee in Charlottesville and Java Shack in Arlington. Para Coffee is one of the most charming coffee shops we've seen in a while and it is chock full of talented baristas. Java Shack is an awesome location right in the thick of Clarendon that has been in business for over 15 years!

On a larger scale, we're very happy to be working with the nation's largest foodservice provider, Sysco Foods, to offer our coffees to high end restaurants and cafes outside of the Richmond area that might otherwise not have access to Fair Trade and Organically roasted, fresh, small-batch coffees. Despite the stigma of large, corporate goliath food companies, Sysco is a great, quality and service oriented company and we've been impressed by their excitement about our coffee, our brand, and getting us to more outlying areas.

Finally, we are very pleased to announce that our trial period at Kroger Willow Lawn in the Natural Foods section has come to an end and the corporate folks were impressed that our sales met and exceeded expectations, even while the store was under renovation. Because our 8 Fair Trade Organic coffees were so popular, they have decided to place us in 6 additional Richmond area Kroger locations! As soon as we have confirmation of the exact stores we'll announce them officially.

Obviously, we owe all of you a big Thank You because our growth and popularity is a direct result of you all drinking our coffee, talking us up to your friends and family and visiting all of the awesome restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, churches, salons and schools that proudly brew Blanchard's Coffee--we raise our mugs to you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Mocha Java is the classic coffee blend--one of the first known. Every roaster should have a Mocha Java out of respect to the craft. We're super proud of ours and even more proud that it is a featured coffee at the VMFA Best Cafe every single day.

Just like everyone, we always like to hear compliments. Here's one from Brenda who worked at VMFA and has this to say about the Blanchard's Coffee Co. Mocha Java:

 I was so glad that you still have Mocha Java and as soon as I am out of what I have, I shall order two bags. Best coffee ever and when I worked in the cafe at the Museum as a barista, I became a great fan as did many others. We could not keep the carafe filled.
Be ordering soon.


Thanks Brenda!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart

The title might imply that this post has something to do with coffee being heart-healthy and there might be some factual substantive data proving as much; I can assure you it doesn't.
Coffee is good for you, thats proven, for now--it helps with blood flow, digestion, mental function, its full of antioxidents and all kinds of other great things but I didn't feel like researching all that stuff right now because I'm writing about something completely different.

We take for granted, I think, the fact that we're roasting coffee every day. The process of roasting coffee is a pretty awesome thing but when you're cranking out hundreds of pounds a day, sometimes you forget how fascinating it can be to folks who've never seen it happen.

My favorite part about roasting coffee is the reason for the "heart" part of the title; I love the smell of roasting coffee. I remember the very first batch of coffee I ever roasted years ago; I was floored when the beans came out of the roaster because the smell took me instantly back to my childhood. Nostalgia attached to smell is a very powerful thing. Coffee right out of the roaster smells just like the old time dark tobacco curing barns my father still used back then. The barns were wooden structures with dirt floors and open rafters all the way to the roof. The tobacco was hung from the rafters several stories up and then hickory fires were set below the tobacco to smoke cure it over the course of several weeks.

Still, after six years of roasting coffee, every time I swing the drum hatch open and drop the beans into the cooling tray I am reminded of how much I loved the smell of the dark tobacco barns, the crisp autumn nights tending the fires, the first year I was tall enough to climb the rafters, the community coming together to fill barns, the feel of worn tobacco sticks in your hand, the distinct sound of a stalk splitting over the spear, the soft and cool texture of the tying leaf... These are memories of a tradition exists only in museums; a set of agriculture practices that will never be used again. There are fewer and fewer people left on this earth who share these memories and understand these old-time practices. I feel fortunate to be one of those people and it makes my heart happy that every time I drop a batch of beans I get to re-live it as it all flashes through my mind's eye.