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Small Business Spotlight: Union Place Coffee Roasters

Brett Davidsen
Updated: November 20, 2019 06:46 PM
Created: November 20, 2019 03:40 PM

HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WHEC) — There's nothing quite like the smell of freshly roasted coffee, and here at Union Place Coffee Roasters in Henrietta, that aroma fills the air at all times. 

Tucked in the back of the Genesee Valley Regional Market on Jefferson Road, Laurie DiProspero has been operating this union place for six years now and has built a loyal customer base.

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"It's very hearty. you brew it and it just fills the whole house," customer Pat Haines , who was picking up coffee on the day we visited, said.

DiProspero learned the art of coffee roasting while working at the Maidstone Coffee plant just down the road. Maidstone makes the coffee for Tim Horton's Restaurants. She was running Maidstone's small retail outlet when a change in her duties led to an opportunity. 

"They came to me and they said we're going to shut this little operation down, you're going to go to marketing," DiProspero said. "And I was like, interesting. And then I went home and said to my husband, we should make an offer to buy that little outlet store operation with the small roaster, and that's how I got here."

Catering to the home coffee brewer, Union Place's coffee is roasted in small batches, and it's all done on a micro-roasting machine. A batch usually takes about 12 minutes.

"It goes around like the inside of your drier, constantly moving. Nice air flow in there," DiProspero said as she demonstrated the art of coffee roasting.

Different roasts require different temperatures, but you won't find their roaster hooked up to a computer. DiProspero says they roast by sight, sound and smell.

"When we're roasting, we're listening to the bean, smelling the bean, touching the bean when it comes out into the cooling bin," she said.

Those beans are ordered through brokers from farms primarily in Central and South America.

On this particular day they roasted 13 25-pound batches. The coffee is bagged on site and sold in their retail shop, small grocery stores, in offices, and through coffee vendors. 

While their most popular coffee is the Union Place House Dark Roast, they have many varieties, including a full line of flavored coffees.

At Union Place they test out new beans on a regular basis. 

Right now they're trying to determine what new coffees to bring in for the holidays. We were there as they shared their testing technique.

It's a practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee called "cupping." Hot water is poured over the grounds in a cup. 

Brett Davidsen: What's the best part of the job?

Laurie DiProspero: "The customers. This is a special stop. We're not all that convenient. We're in the back of the market. So people, they make a special stop and they become our friends and family."

If you know of a small business we should feature, email us at spotlight@whec.com.


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