Bada Bean, Bada Boom: Q&A with Local Coffee Roasters

For local roasters and dedicated coffee drinkers in Winston-Salem, coffee is life. We caught up with java masters from three of our beloved coffee shops—Krankies Coffee, Footnote, and Twin City Hive—to learn about their roasting techniques, find out how to perfect a home-brew, and discover must-try menu items for your next visit.

Q: How did your business start? In what ways has it grown?

A: Joe Davis, Footnote – Before Footnote, there was (and still is) Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem’s oldest operating craft brewery and one of the most popular craft breweries in North Carolina. Co-owners Jamie and Sarah Bartholomeus had been home-roasting for quite some time when Jamie decided to purchase a roaster. 

Located in downtown Winston-Salem, Footnote sits adjacent to Foothills Brewing in a former auto shop and shares space with Bookmarks Bookstore. Literature and coffee naturally complement one another, so the opening of Bookmarks encouraged the construction of Footnote, a coffee and cocktail bar. 

Dan Pennock, Krankies – Located in the now-bustling downtown neighborhood of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, Krankies started as a music venue in 2003 owned by Dave Franklin and John Bryan. During that time, the building was open as a coffee shop some mornings with the coffee sourced from a local roaster. In 2005, the owners purchased the roasting business and incorporated that into Krankies.

Terry Miller, Twin City Hive – Twin City Hive opened its doors downtown at 301 Brookstown Avenue in mid 2014. We only had about 11 seats and quickly decided we needed more space. In the fall of 2015, we moved to a space down the hall to offer more seating and a new outdoor patio. Fast-forward to 2019, we installed a new coffee roasting area and gave the whole space a fresh new look.

15-Krankies-IY2B4104

Q: Where do you source your beans?

A: Unanimous – Direct trade! All three roasters go above and beyond fair trade coffee to work more directly with the farmers they’re sourcing from. Additionally…

Joe Davis, Footnote – We source from three companies with the primary one being Coffee Co-Mission, which is based right here in Winston-Salem. We cherish the relationship we have with our farmers. In fact, for our Cameroon coffee, the farmers needed more money to plant the crop, so we pre-purchased to help them grow and sell even more. 

Dan Pennock, Krankies – Practicing direct trade not only opens the doors for new friendships with farmers all over the world, this type of sourcing also gives us more transparency about where the coffee is from. 

TerryMiller_TCH

Terry Miller, Twin City Hive – We are currently working to get some beans directly from farmers that own coffee farms in Panama and Ecuador but actually live right here in North Carolina. How cool is that?

Q: Can you describe your roasting process or technique? Is there something that makes it unique?

A: Joe Davis, Footnote – In addition to good equipment, we track our process on “Cropster,” a roasting software that helps us start at a consistent temperature every time. 

Dan Pennock, Krankies – We talk to producers around the world and tell them what we’re looking for. Then, we start with small sample roasts. We try all the sample roasts and pick the one that we like the most before recreating that flavor on a larger scale. 

Terry Miller, Twin City Hive – Our roaster is an electric air roaster, so roasting coffee is like making popcorn since the beans are heated while suspended in hot air. Because we do not introduce any gas fumes into the beans while roasting, our coffee has a more even roast, less acidity, and a distinctly smooth taste. 

Q: Do you have a signature blend or roast, and if so, what is it?

A: Joe Davis, Footnote – One is a medium roast, which is a Peruvian coffee from the region of Chanchamayo. We use that for our cold-brew. Cameroon Java (espresso) is likely the top-selling bag; it’s between a medium and dark roast. Then we have our French roast. It’s a Mexican heirloom coffee, and Coffee Co-Mission is really helping the farmers keep this crop. 

Dan Pennock, Krankies – Our Railhead Espresso blend is pretty popular. The coffee beans in the railhead espresso change all the time, since espresso is simply the roasting method…not the type of coffee.

Terry Miller, Twin City Hive – Our Mexican Tres Bolillos is our new dark roast. This particular coffee is used in many ways in the shop, from our drip to our espresso to our new nitrogen-infused cold brew. It has the chocolate notes associated with a darker roast but the mouth-feel is super smooth, and that taste is not lost, even when milk is added.

Q: What do you look for in a good cup of coffee?

A: Joe Davis, Footnote – I drink a lot of cold brew at full concentration, which not many places do. Beyond that, I just like a well-roasted cup of coffee.

Dan Pennock, Krankies – It’s really hard for me to drink coffee that I don’t know or where it came from. I try to drink from roasters who honor direct trade.

Mitchell Britt, Krankies – I’ve shifted to brewing my coffee much lighter, almost like tea. 

Terry Miller, Twin City Hive – A good coffee should be enjoyed without adding cream or sugar because it will take you on a journey. As the coffee cools, you will begin to taste the many coffee notes or flavors that make up that specific roast. 

Q: If someone is visiting your coffee shop for the first time, what is the one item on the menu that you think is a must-try?

A: Joe Davis, Footnote – We keep 5–7 drip coffees available, and there are free refills, so we encourage customers to try different types. We’re also one of two coffee places offering a full bar, so we have a cold brew old-fashioned that is very popular and will likely never leave the menu.

Mitchell Britt, Krankies – Try the espresso milkshake. It’s made with ice cream from a local creamery and a double shot of espresso. 

Terry Miller, Twin City Hive – I would have to say our new nitro-cold brew coffee. We roast our Mexican Tres Bolillos coffee just before second crack to give this coffee a dark, rich, smooth taste without the typical acidic sharpness. We then steep the coffee overnight for 20 hours before we pressurize it in kegs with nitrogen. By infusing nitrogen into the coffee, you get a satisfying creamy cold brew.

Q: What are your recommendations for someone hoping to elevate their coffee game at home?

A: Joe Davis, Footnote – I’d say check out the blogs and YouTube videos out there, like The Perfect Daily Grind, Sweet Maries, or Mill City Roasters

Dan Pennock, Krankies – Keep it simple. I ran out of filters one day, so I poured the coffee grinds in a Mason jar and stirred it vigorously. That made all the grinds drop to the bottom, so I could pour it into a coffee cup. I’ve been making it this way for three years now.

Terry Miller, Twin City Hive – Stop by our shop! We are putting together programs to help our community of customers understand the roasting process, make great coffee, and learn latte art.

Who’s ready for a cup of coffee right NOW? Next time you visit Winston-Salem, be sure to check out these three coffee hot spots as well as other incredible local cafes throughout the city.