10/25/18 – Coffee roasters land in Lenoir

Posted on: October 25th, 2018 by admin


October 25, 2018


By Virginia Annable




Jason Campbell sipped from a hot glass of light brown coffee and tasted the finished product of his painstaking work.


“It’s a medium body with a stellar-clean finish,” he said, slurping the still-scalding brew.


The coffee has flavors you might not expect in your morning joe — chocolate milk and rhubarb pie, as Campbell describes them. Those notes come out during the roasting process, when he turns green coffee beans grown at micro farms around the world to the brown, fragrant beans used to brew a pot of coffee, Campbell said.


Campbell and his wife, Amanda, have been roasting and selling their coffee since 2010 as Camp Coffee Roasters. They have a cafe in Blowing Rock, a seasonal cafe on Beech Mountain and an online store, but the couple recently moved their roasting to Lenoir.


Now, on Mondays, the thick, sweet smell of roasting coffee envelops the southern end of Mulberry Street, just north of Pennton Avenue. For now, the couple is only roasting their coffee beans in Lenoir, but in the spring they plan to open a small cafe too.


Campbell started learning to roast coffee in 2003. It’s where he picked up a love of perfectly roasted coffee under coffee mentors in Boone, where his wife went to school. When Campbell, a member of the U.S. Army, returned from a long and tough deployment to Iraq in 2010, he was ready to do something different to support his family — they have two sons — and pursue a passion.


A few months after returning from Iraq, he opened the cafe in Blowing Rock.


For years, the couple has been eyeing Lenoir as a possible home and a place to expand the business. The city’s welcoming citizens and blossoming business environment seemed to call to them, and earlier this year they finally bought a building to roast in and moved to Lenoir.


Recently, Amanda was able to quit her job as a social worker to make Camp Coffee a full-time job for her as well, Campbell said.


“I know the coffee, and she knows a lot about the business side,” he said.


Over the years, the business has grown and expanded, but Campbell thinks it’s gotten as big as he’d like it to be. With soon-to-be two year-round cafes, a seasonal one and plenty of online orders from small businesses and individuals, he’s happy with the size. In roasting, it lets Campbell focus on what’s most important to him: the quality of the coffee.


“Our focus is coffee, and the emphasis is on the taste,” he said.


The roasting process is precise and high-tech. Next to a bright red-and-gold coffee roaster, which heats and cools the coffee beans until they’re perfectly flavored, sits a laptop computer with charts filled with colorful lines pulled up on the screen. Various thermometers in the roaster send signals to the computer to track how hot the beans are getting and for how long, Campbell said. Each type of coffee bean has a set roasting schedule of various heats and time, which brings out flavors like dark chocolate, strawberry and smoke.


“A lot of what we focus on is the characteristics of the coffee,” he said.


Campbell describes his coffee as “craft coffee,” like craft beer. It’s an acquired taste with complex flavors.


“Some people like craft beer and some people like Budweiser. Some people like craft coffee and some people like just your typical coffee,” he said.


This spring, after the busy winter season dies down when they close up the Beech Mountain cafe for the season, Campbell plans to open a small cafe in Lenoir. It won’t be a place to sit down for hours and work or talk — it’ll be all about getting a cup of coffee.


“I think we’ll be able to find a niche with what we have without stepping on anyone’s (other businesses’) toes,” Campbell said.


Camp Coffee also works with other food service businesses to set up coffee service, like at a restaurant or cafe.



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