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Homegrown Roasters Brewing a Strong Passion for Fresher Coffee


Bryan Hibbard samples freshly roasted beans. (Photo - Alison Carlino)

Bryan Hibbard samples freshly roasted beans. (Photo – Alison Carlino)

Fort Bend Coffee Roasters To Open Richmond Coffeehouse And Offer Brewing Classes

By Anna Saikin

Bryan Hibbard, the founder of Fort Bend Coffee Roasters, didn’t grow up drinking coffee. He only discovered an affinity for the hot beverage in college after a roommate who worked at Starbucks shared his free stash, which Hibbard brewed in a French press.

Hibbard first began roasting green coffee beans using a popcorn popper and a chopstick, and with encouragement from his wife, Abby, began Fort Bend Coffee Roasters. From such humble origins, he has perfected his artisanal roasting techniques using a 5-kilo drum roaster to build a strong local following. Now, Hibbard and Hibbard, along with their two children, have built the company to include a range of locally roasted blends. This fall, the Hibbards will open their first coffeehouse, Blockhouse Coffee and Kitchen, in downtown Richmond’s historic district. Their roasterie, which began in Fulshear, will move next door to Blockhouse so customers can watch the painstaking care that goes into producing their cup of java.

Blockhouse reflects the sense of community that comes with sharing a good pot of coffee with family and friends in an unpretentious atmosphere that Hibbard hopes will draw coffee lovers of all stripes. The combined concept blurs the line between the coffee house and restaurant, making it an ideal stop for morning regulars, antique shoppers taking a lunch break, or families spending the day together. Blockhouse will have a slow bar offering different types of brew processes, each chosen to maximize the flavor of the type of bean used.

Casual coffee drinkers may be surprised at the level of detail Hibbard devotes to his coffee, but he notes that brewing a good cup is a simple process. Manual brewing methods such as Kalita and Chemex allow the drinker to control a number of variables, and prevent overextraction or underextraction, problems that can be common in automatic coffeemakers. Hibbard will teach these and other techniques in brewing classes that will be offered this fall at Blockhouse. For those eager to learn more, Fort Bend Coffee Roasters’ blog provides coffee education for consumers as well as brewing guides and information about the farmers who grow the coffee.

Hibbard’s commitment to his coffee is echoed in his educational philosophy. Unlike other artisans who produce a finished product, he notes that people have to take his home and brew it themselves. In this way, Fort Bend Coffee Roasters is distinguished from other indie coffee brands. The company endeavors to make sure every cup is made within the optimal time of freshness, or within two weeks. Hibbard personally samples fresh beans at a warehouse in downtown Houston, choosing only the best beans in season. Once they are roasted, he delivers coffee to wholesale customers within 24 hours of roasting and to his resale customers within a week of roasting. The quick delivery timeframes ensure that each bag reflects the company’s commitment to delivering coffee that is as fresh as possible to customers, while working hard to support small farmers.

The brewers have an artistic interest in ensuring the integrity of the brand by making sure the quality is consistently high no matter where consumers find it. For these reasons, only a select group of local coffee shops currently sell their coffee, including Proud Pie in Katy – where Hibbard recommends the coconut cream pie – in addition to Blockhouse and the Farmer’s Market at Imperial. Regulars at the Farmer’s Market know that every Saturday morning there will be a server brewing cups made to order, using a water kettle and glass filters showing the rich liquid slowly dripping to an awaiting cup. Marketgoers can also purchase bags of freshly roasted beans and get a postcard that explains how best to enjoy them.

As the company continues to grow, Hibbard notes that he is very proud to be based in Fort Bend County and is not really interested in becoming the next Starbucks. He states that his customers really appreciate not having to drive all the way downtown to get their bag of coffee, and judging by the lines at the Farmer’s Market, many would echo that sentiment.

The company’s long-term goal is to continue to support local business practices so that people can share their coffee with friends. When asked to describe his favorite type of coffee, Hibbard simply states, “Freshly roasted. And black.” Just like the cups he serves to his customers.

For more information on where to find Fort Bend Coffee Roasters, visit fortbendcoffee.com. Blockhouse Coffee is located at 611 Jackson Street, Suite C, Richmond (Blockhousecoffee.co).

A Better Brew

There are techniques and products to make a better brew. Here are a few:

Kalita: a pour-over coffee maker that has a flat bottom to produce a more even extraction.

Chemex: a pour-over coffee maker that uses a thicker filter than Kalita and lends itself to floral coffees, such as African beans.

French press: a full immersion process where the coffee is brewed in water before it is filtered out.

Japanese iced coffee: an alternative to cold brew in which double-strength hot coffee is poured over ice.

 

Fort Bend Coffee Roasters feature beans from all over the world in eclectic blends such as “Handlebar” and “Mile High.” (Photo - Anna Saikin)

Fort Bend Coffee Roasters feature beans from all over the world in eclectic blends such as “Handlebar” and “Mile High.” (Photo – Anna Saikin)

 

A barista at the Farmer’s Market at Imperial manually brews a cup of Fort Bend Coffee.

A barista at the Farmer’s Market at Imperial manually brews a cup of Fort Bend Coffee.

 

The Chemex pour-over method produces a beautifully rich cup of coffee. (Photo - Alison Carlino)

The Chemex pour-over method produces a beautifully rich cup of coffee. (Photo – Alison Carlino)

 

 

Coffee beans poured into a roaster. (Photo - Betsy Blue Photography)

Coffee beans poured into a roaster. (Photo – Betsy Blue Photography)

 

Water from a kettle poured over a Kalita coffee maker. (Photo - Chris Campbell)

Water from a kettle poured over a Kalita coffee maker. (Photo – Chris Campbell)


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