Brad and Lesa Wood live with their two children in the Crieve Hall neighborhood of Nashville. A few years ago, Brad developed a fascination with coffee roasting. In September, the Woods launched Roast, Inc., with a website where people can sign up to have his carefully selected and roasted beans delivered to their home or office. Roast, Inc., also frequents farmers' markets in East Nashville and west Nashville.
"We've slowly but surely built up this big customer base with delivery," Brad Wood says. "Actually doing a cafe just came out of sheer demand. After about the hundredth person asked, we decided to set up shop."
Roast, Inc., specializes in single-origin coffees, not blends. One of his favorites is Finca Genesis from Costa Rica, which he says has unique brown sugar flavors. "From bean selection to roasting methods, it's a craft thing," he says. "It's not fast."
The cafe will have no coffee urns or air pots. Every cup will be brewed to order, Wood says, using one of four methods: French press, pour-over coffee made using the Clever Coffee Dripper (a nifty gadget that uses a stopper under the cone to regulate brewing time), a dual-siphon apparatus heated by butane, and the old dependable Chemex filter cone system.
"We want people to have the kind of experience that you'd traditionally have to go to New York, Chicago or San Francisco for," Brad Wood says.
Lesa Wood will run the cafe (her husband also has a full-time job as an engineer for a California tech company), and they share roasting duties. "We get pretty scientific about it," Brad says. "We vary the amounts of ground product per 16-ounce cup," he says. They employ cupping (laborious taste-tasting of coffee), trying up to 50 variations before getting the formula right. "We're both perfectionists," he says.
The choice of Trousdale Drive seems surprising for a hip, cutting-edge cafe. (On the other hand, we Scenesters used to work just a few blocks north on Trousdale, and I can tell you that other than cafe con leche at Back to Cuba, the area is a coffee desert.) The Woods expect their Crieve Hall neighbors to be among the most enthusiastic customers.
The cafe, which is at 4825 Trousdale Drive, suite 211 (in the same center as Unique Flavors and Anne's Cakes), will have a soft opening starting in mid-July. At first the only food served will be muffins from neighboring Anne's, but Wood says he will listen to customer input about what else to offer.
Go to the website for more information, including about coffee delivery. Brad Wood says the price is around $11 to $15 a pound, not that much different from Whole Foods or other gourmet coffee retailers.