Rome residents have been enjoying coffee at Swift & Finch Coffee Shop for eight years now.
But there’s about to be a change. And it means more coffee and better coffee for customers who are already used to quality blends and flavors from the downtown shop.
Swift & Finch is about to install a brand new, bigger and better roaster.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Ellie Mahon. “It’s a Mill City Roaster. They’re a premier roaster manufacturer based in Minneapolis.”
The new machine is a 15-kilo roaster. Since opening eight years ago, the shop has been using a 5-kilo roaster. That means Mark McLucas, who is the shop’s expert roaster, will be able to roast larger batches and will have more control over the different flavors he produces.
Mahon said Swift & Finch imports all their coffee “green.” After the coffee is harvested on farms in countries all over the world, it’s dried and goes through a mill process in the country in which it’s grown.
“Then we use an independent coffee importer to get it to us,” Mahon said. “They source coffee from co-ops and individual farms. Their employees travel to different countries and carefully select the coffee we get.”
And when that green coffee gets to Swift & Finch, Mark McLucas roasts it in-house.
“That’s as fresh as you can possibly experience it,” Mahon said. “None of our coffee stays in our shop more than a week from the time it’s roasted to when it’s consumed. That’s a really quick turnover.”
But there’s also an art to the roasting process. Mahon said McLucas is truly an artist in the way he approaches their coffee.
“He tastes the coffee very meticulously through a process called cupping,” she said. “He can tweak the temperature, the time it’s in the roaster and several other variables. Coffee from South America and Central America tastes different from coffee from Africa. And even within those regions, different countries will produce their unique flavor profiles.”
And all those different profiles get treated differently by McLucas during the roasting process. So the new roaster will allow him tighter control of the product. He’ll be able to monitor all the variables for a better, cleaner taste profile, Mahon said.
But Swift & Finch isn’t just a coffee shop. They’re considered a producer since they roast their own coffee and sell it wholesale to other businesses including Harvest Moon Cafe, Aventine and Doug’s Deli. The new roaster will allow that wholesale business to expand and produce even more.
This past week, a work crew has been knocking out a large hole in a wall at the shop so that a garage door can be installed. The new roaster can’t fit through any existing doorway to get it to its designated space. That space will be the shop’s production facility and many more palettes of green coffee will come through that new garage door.
The space will also be used for educational opportunities. Swift & Finch already offers free monthly cupping (coffee tasting) experiences which are open to the public. They’ll now have a designated space to host those classes as well as other classes for locals to learn about coffee and how to brew their own coffee at home.
Customers may start tasting coffee from the new roaster as early as the next couple weeks. Mahon said after the roaster in installed in its new space in the next day or so, McLucas will begin using it to roast a few batches of coffee. But he’ll still be using the smaller roaster to ensure that customers have a smooth transition and that quality is maintained throughout the process.
The new production space at Swift & Finch has, until now, been occupied by potter Cabell Sweeney who will now be operating out of a Bale Street studio.