The Colombian beans.
Corktown's Astro Coffee partly built its reputation over the last six years on an impressive coffee program comprised of beans sourced from some of the nation's best roasters, and now the company is taking steps to join their ranks.
Co-owner Jessica Hicks tells MT
that an Astro roasting plant is in the works and will likely roll out its initial beans and bags sometime in July. Though it's a new direction, she stresses that the expansion is a "super low key" move, and only one variety will be available at Astro at the outset.
"We're taking baby steps and building it from the ground up. Eventually we'll have more of everything ... but we're kind of taking it from here, growing it, and we'll see what happens," she says.
First up is a single origin Colombian bean, though not single estate as it's grown by a group of farmers in the same area. Hicks describes the coffee as slightly
fruity, but still easy drinking. Not overly full or acidic, "but still interesting and very good."
She and husband and business partner Dai Hughes met while roasting with London's reputable Monmouth Coffee Company, and they've always considered roasting commercially. However they never found the right partner until hiring on Alejandro Fesili around a year ago.
"That’s kind of been our backbone and what we’re really interested in," Hicks tells MT. "But we've sort of been waiting for the right person to come along that shares the same vision and taste of good coffee, and we have found our roaster."
The plant — which Hicks would only say is somewhere on Grand River Avenue in Detroit — won't be open to the public, and Astro will continue using beans from other roasters.
"Astro is a multi-roaster and we have a bunch of different coffees coming in from all over the country, so we want to keep that as a metric for measuring our own success, and it's important to keep that perspective," she says.