Made in the Catskills

Roman Roaster Coffee: Not your average cup of joe

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Roman Roaster Coffee, a small batch roasting company in Delhi operated by Andrea Ghersi creates coffee by relying on his sense of smell, sight and taste. He also relies on a vast wealth of knowledge and experience in coffee bean roasting.

To Ghersi, coffee is experienced like wine and to enhance the quality and characteristics of the coffee bean region, he emphasizes single original roasting.

His passion for coffee started at a young age, he said. “My grandfather, Nonno Aldo, and I would go buy freshly roasted coffee every Sunday at the Torrefazione in Monteverde Vecchio, an old Roman neighborhood. As an Italian, coffee has been part of my daily routine and one of life’s daily pleasures. Today, I love to share my coffee knowledge and experience by creating artisan roasts to be enjoyed by all.”

His palate and menu are diverse. He offers a medium dark roast breakfast blend with dark chocolate and brown sugar notes; an imperial dark roast that retains its aroma and freshness for an extended period of time with a smooth, balanced and complex finish on the palate, and he offers an imperial espresso which he defines as rich, smooth, and creamy, full-bodied with notes of stone fruit.

Ghersi relocated to Delaware County from Louisiana when his children became school-aged. The public school system in Louisiana was not up to his standards and a search for the county’s best school systems led him to the Catskills. The rest is history, he said. A visit to Delhi’s Delaware Academy Central School in 2012 was all he and his wife needed to clinch the move.

Ghersi is a chef by trade, working for high-end hotels for 25 years. He took a position as a manager for a food distribution company in Delaware County which led to a position at SUNY Delhi 10 years ago. 

He began his coffee roasting business in 2019, he said, after recognizing that there was an opportunity to fill an unmet need in the industry. He purchased a small roasting machine and customer reception was great. “I enjoy tremendously, the whole process,” he said. “From making coffee to meeting customers.”

He operates Roman Roster Coffee from Delhi’s eCenter, now a business center for start-ups and businesses transitioning and expanding, 

His best selling product depends on customers. Most diners and coffee shops, he said, purchase a dark roast or a breakfast roast. His espresso also sells well.

All of Ghersi’s specialty coffees in his online shop sell well, he said. He purchases coffee beans from Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Bali from three importers. Coffee beans are not grown (successfully) in the United States, he said.

When shopping for beans, he is meticulous and demanding. His taste - elevated. 

Addressing supply chain issues, he said, he has not had difficulty acquiring product. However, prices have increased in the past six months. When he makes a purchase, he said, he is locked in for a six month supply, and expects that his next shipment will reflect a cost increase to the customer because he must maintain a set profit margin to sustain the business. 

There’s a lot of good coffee on the market, Ghersi said, but he believes in offering a great product, not just a good product. Fresh coffee is essential, he said. What customers buy on the shelves of grocery stores often sits in a warehouse for a year, then stored on shelves for six additional months, and it loses its “good” factor.

Roman Roaster Coffee is a member of the specialty coffee association which reflects his value in fair-trade and possible organic coffee that has “a high regard, flavor and taste and has been made, harvested and purchased,” he said. 

The coffee beans are just one part of the puzzle, he said. He roasting skills are another. The key to roasting beans is to find the right methods and right temperature for every kind of bean he is roasting. Beans can be roasted at a particular level, he said, and once you find the right level, that coffee bean becomes the best that it can be. 

As far as freshness is concerned, his coffee is shipped within five days of roasting.

The perfect cup of coffee depends wholly on preference, he said. For him, Bali coffee beans are key. It is smooth, he said. “It is a long-finish, long-tasting coffee that has complexity.” He drinks his coffee black and typically, hot.

In the summer, he said, a cold-brew iced coffee hits the spot.

The flavor fumbles the tongue in a swirl of surprise and familiarity. There is no bitterness, which Ghersi ensures with his finely timed roasting, resting, grinding and delivery. 

Ghersi prides himself on offering a local product that is affordable. 

Roman Roasters offers both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Decaf, he said, makes up approximately 5% of his overall sales. If you are looking for a highly caffeinated coffee, he said, choose a lighter roast. “The longer you roast it, the darker it becomes and the less caffeine it has,” he revealed.

Ghersi offers consumers tips and tricks to assess freshness, because coffee beans are as fragile as the industry it supports. If they sit too long, they fall victim to time.

Time can be a thief. If a freshly brewed cup does not have a micro-bubble layer, it’s a sign of aged beans. Another way to determine freshness is to put beans in a plastic zip-lock bag over night. If the bag has “puffed up” with air overnight - the beans are fresh. No air = old beans. 

For more information on Roman Roaster Coffee visit romanroastercoffee.com.

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