UPDATE (7/3/13): Today was Benchwarmers’ last day at the GoggleWorks so the company can focus on expanding their brand in other ways and finding a more permanent residence in the not-too-distant future.
Benchwarmers Coffee Company recently opened a stand at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. You may recognize their flavorful, micro-roasted coffees from the West Reading Farmers Market on Sundays, but we couldn’t be more excited that this coffee is now available here in the city the other six days.
Watching the owner Adam Kenderdine prepare a cup of coffee, it is immediately obvious that he takes great pride and care in his craft. You know what you’re getting is fresh because it is ground and brewed one cup at a time. His selection of coffees drives this point even further: here is a man who is paying attention and getting creative with every step of the process.
This care starts before the coffee makes it anywhere near Pennsylvania. Benchwarmers Coffee buys farm-fresh, direct-trade coffee beans, so their supplier has a personal relationship with the farmers who grow the beans in Africa, South America, and the Pacific Islands. This relationship helps to protect against the slave labor and “sweatshops in the fields” that exist in much of the coffee industry today. Adam says their standards are even higher than what is needed to be certified Fair Trade, but the cost of that certification is too high for a new business of his size. The same goes for being certified organic, even though he is committed to all-natural and sustainable coffee practices.
When I stopped in last week, I was told to try the Ethiopia Sun-Dried coffee. Instead of roasting these beans like regular coffee, these beans are left in the sun for a few months, retaining the fruitiness of the berry into the coffee. As a result, this coffee has a more complex flavor, which is exactly what sets Benchwarmers apart. Then there’s the New Orleans roast, which includes a spicy chicory flavor unlike any coffee I’ve ever had, although it was inspired by a famous cafe in the city that gave this blend its name.
Their beans are currently being used in a coffee stout by Saucony Creek Brewing Company out of Kutztown, which isn’t surprising, because Benchwarmers seems to be doing for coffee what craft brewers are doing for beer by experimenting with the process and delivering a beverage that is big on flavor and creativity.
Along those lines, Benchwarmers cold brew black coffee is alao available in bottles, some of which are already being sold in other shops around Berks County such as Say Cheese in West Reading and Cigars International in Hamburg.
At this point, Adam is roasting the beans in his dining room, but he is eagerly working towards the day when he can run a full time café where he says his focus will go back to what a café was originally all about: providing a really good cup of coffee without getting too distracted by lattes and sandwiches. But for now we can continue to enjoy his coffee at the GoggleWorks, working at one of the tables or walking around enjoying the many art galleries.
The GoggleWorks complex is officially located at 201 Washington Street, but the parking lot entrance is around 140 N 3rd Street. The coffee stand is in front of the gift shop. Come try a cup Monday through Thursday, 8am-7pm, and Friday, 8am-4pm.