Meet Your Neighborhood Coffee Roaster: Willie Needham
I'm a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with 17 years of restaurant, banquet and catering experience. I was born and raised in the town of New Albany, IN with my eyes set on graduating the Culinary and becoming a chef one day,
It was during the night classes that began at 1:30am at the Culinary where I developed a true appreciation for coffee.
Though I never received any formal training on coffee making or roasting, coffee runs in my veins! My uncle has been roasting coffee for close to 50 years now and ran a coffee shop back in the 70's.
Fast forward about 13 years I was given a coffee roasting kit for Christmas. I was hooked! I loved this coffee so much that I needed to share this with my friends and family. Everyone raved about it and always asked for more. Thus began the dream of a coffee business.
When I began putting together a business plan, a dear friend of mine who owns Sanoli Delights flan factory opend her commercial kitchen up to me so I can get started. Pictured on the right is the first roaster I built. It's capable of roasting 1 pound of coffee at a time and as of November 2023 it has roasted over 700 pounds of coffee!
A couple of months later I was walking around the village of Pawling and noticed a few empty storefronts. I figured it would be worth asking about one of them, what did I have to lose?
I walked into Mgrath Real Estate and asked if they had anything that could be turned into a coffee shop. It turns out they did!
The location the agent showed me had been a hair salon and had just move out the day before, it wasn't even listed!
I signed the lease in April and opened the shop Memorial Day weekend. Since then I have served thousands of people.
I don't want to view anyone who buys this coffee as a customer, but rather as a friend. I'm a Christian, which means I desire to love my neighbor however I can. My absolute favorite part of this coffee shop is connecting with people. I know I can't solve all the world's problems, but whenever I sit down with a pourover and my Bible, I get the feeling that everything is gonna be okay.