The Food Biz: Roast relaunch

Mom-and-pop coffeehouse brews high-quality joe using artisan methods

A little more than a year ago, Brad Wood and his wife Lesa opened a little coffeehouse, called Roast Inc., to serve the exotic coffees Brad had been acquiring and roasting in small batches, first as a hobby and then to sell at farmers’ markets.

For their venture into retail they picked a spot in a strip on Trousdale south of Harding Place, not far from the Crieve Hall neighborhood where they live. They focused on brewing their coffees one cup at a time, using a variety of novel methods usually found in cities like New York, Chicago or San Francisco, including the siphon pot method, which looks like something out of a Victorian science lab.

Roast Inc. has been operating quietly on Trousdale ever since, attracting a small but loyal following of neighbors, coffee fanatics and commuters thirsting for a delicious buzz on the way to work.

Now, with support and a little muscle supplied by those loyal customers, Roast Inc. has undergone a renovation to make it even more welcoming. To celebrate — and spread word about their special beans, roast and brewing apparatus — the coffeehouse will have a grand reopening this Saturday, Oct. 29, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We called it the 28-Hour Makeover,” Brad Wood said of the shop’s renovation, which included tearing down an interior wall, replacing the floors and installing a laptop bar of rough-cut Tennessee walnut, much of the work assisted by customer volunteers. “We started at 3 p.m. Saturday and finished at 6 p.m. Sunday. Afterward we all had a family-style barbecue.”

The renovation “kind of opened things up,” Wood says. “There’s warm feel to it with all the wood we put up. It’s more conducive to being a third place.”

A third place? Urban planners use that term to describe a site that isn’t home or work, but nonetheless serves a role in people’s lives, the place where they get together for meetings, to study, to socialize or relax. To encourage that comfort zone, Roast Inc. supplies WiFi service.

As for the coffee side, Roast Inc. brews and sells equipment for single-cup brewing in three full-immersion methods (French press, siphon pot and Clever) and three drip pour-over methods (Hario V60, Kalita and Chemex). These names are unfamiliar to most of us, but they’re music to the ears of serious coffee enthusiasts.

Upon request, Wood offers more esoteric brewing methods, like the Aeropress (which has a fervent cult following) and something called the sock pot.

Wood is even more passionate about the beans he purchases from single small estates in Central and South America, Indonesia, and Africa. “We get very rare, ‘nano lots’ of small-production coffees that are really out of this world in terms of taste,” he said.

“And we’re very transparent about it,” he added. Wood can tell you exactly who grew the coffee, when and where, down to the GPS coordinates.

For the grand reopening party, he’ll bring out a very special lot from Hawaii, the only U.S. coffee honored by the Specialty Coffee Association of America as one of its 10 international Cups of the Year.

The 20-pound lot is Hawaii Kailiawa Coffee grown by farmer Bull Kailiawa in Ka’u on the big island of Hawaii. The Woods purchased it at an auction that benefited the nonprofit Grounds for Health, which fights cervical cancer among women in coffee-growing regions with little access to health care.

Wood is charging $7.50 per cup — with $5 of that retail price also going to Grounds for Health. And, he said, it really does represent “one of the best cups of coffee ever grown.”

In addition to coffee, Roast Inc. sells local pastries, including muffins from Anne’s Cakes, BagelFace bagels and cookies from Dozen. Milk is from the Hatcher Family Dairy in Williamson County.

Roast Inc. is at 4825 Trousdale Drive, its phone number 730-8074. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Quick hits

• Zaxby’s, a chain out of Athens, Ga., specializing in chicken fingers, Buffalo wings, salads and appetizers, is set to open its first location inside Davidson County today. Licensee Robert Ward is launching the restaurant at 915 Bell Road near Hickory Hollow Mall. There are already Zaxby’s stores in Franklin, Mt. Juliet, Gallatin, Hendersonville, Murfreesboro and Smyrna.

• And finally, an update on Sloco, chef Jeremy Barlow’s gourmet sandwich establishment in the12South neighborhood. It opened for business Tuesday without a hitch and speedy online ordering is up and running at slocolocal.com. The shop is at 2905 12th Ave. S. (499-4793).