Some Wicked Brew
Like the famous fairy tale, this story, too, begins with magical beans.
The setting: a kid’s-playroom-turned-experimental-kitchen in a residential area of Fort Fairfield, where our hero first started roasting coffee beans.
On this day, Ben Nason runs his hands through a fresh batch of organic specialty beans, taking in aromas reminiscent of sweet grass as he makes precise and calculated considerations on his next roast.
Waiting for the first pop of little beans, the ventilation system kicks in, filling the air outside with a smell like fresh-baked bread. That’s when Nason’s neighbors know he’s up to no good.
He first got hooked on the brown elixir at a church function as a teen. He began scoring French roast by the bag (the darker the better) and carrying it around like contraband. Later, while working at a chain restaurant, a cook introduced him to home roasting using nothing more than a wok. The small beans in that wok were what pushed Nason over the edge. It would be a while, however, before he created Storibord Coffee Roasters.
“At first I wasn’t sure about it, because coffee is a highly competitive market,” he said. “I don’t hide the fact that I’m a home roaster. Eventually I’d like to grow it into a business. The plan for the future of Storibord is to have a location.”
His grandfather always told him that whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.
“When you find something you like you just become passionate about it,” he said. “Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you I get passionate about certain things, I get consumed by it and start consuming information and learning more about it and just really enjoy it.”
Nason’s a self-proclaimed coffee nerd. Spend a few minutes with him and he’ll percolate with terms like denseness, elevation, crack, pop, notes, caramel and acidity. If there’s a coffee publication, recipe or YouTube video, he’s read it, tried it, watched it, absorbed it and added it to his roasting diary.
By day Nason works in IT just a town over. In the evening he suits up, breaks out his tasting cups and preps for the weekend farmers’ market.
“I love roasting for myself, and I love trying new coffees,” he said. ““I love it when I’m serving coffee for others and people are like, ‘Wow, I love this!’ Ultimately, I’m looking for really tasty coffee.”
When winter hits and the local weekend farmers’ markets close for the season, he sells his roasts on his website. The site presents a “big city” feel for being located so far north. Customers can sign up for subscriptions in which new roasts are mailed to them monthly.
“I want to provide an atmosphere and a service where [the customer] feels special,” he said. “That sounds really high and lofty, but I think it’s important that when people come they feel this is cool, this is special, this is unique.”
Over a year in production and Nason says the future looks bright.
“Everything I build is going to be built off revenue,” he said. “I haven’t taken any loans. I [use] our own personal capital and I just try to be smart about our decisions and what we purchase. I try to be strategic and thoughtful when purchasing cups or bags. I want it to look handsome and polished, but I try to keep costs low.”
Recently, bags of Storibord coffee began popping up on local store shelves in the County. Nason has big plans for Storibord (which he says he’ll reveal when the time is right), but he does guarantee that espresso will be available in the future.
“I want to be known for espresso and I want to make sure it’s a really well crafted espresso that even those who really love espresso say, ‘Wow, this is excellent!’”