NORWICH — A team of two Norwich men have taken it upon themselves to educate the ranks of Chenango County's coffee enthusiasts, ushering drinkers along the complex “Journey of Taste” by any beans necessary. Dan Foust and Dan Joseph (“The Dans”) are the caffeinated caricatures behind Fojo beans, Chenango County's only local coffee roaster.
If you haven't heard of Fojo Beans, clearly you need a second cup. In 2013, the Fojo outfit was named the “Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year” by Commerce Chenango. Served in coffee shops and mom-and-pop businesses throughout Broome, Chenango and Madison counties—both in liquid and bean form—the two-man operation is making a splash amongst area java junkies and coffee connoisseurs alike, one sip at a time.
“It's imperative to us that we know where our products come from, and that we stay true to our mission and commitment to the local food movement. We buy specialty-grade “relationship beans” from importers with first-hand knowledge that they’re farmers and small co-ops,” said Joseph. “All coffees we sell are grown and processed using methods that are organic, fair trade, and earth-friendly.”
While not “certified” organic, the duo maintains a working relationship with the small-scale family co-ops and regularly engage with the growers abroad.
Said Joseph, “[We] could get certified organic beans; but personally, I would rather know—and have a an open dialogue with—the growers than worry about some label stamped on our bags.”
The livelihood of both the growers and customers of their products are of utmost importance for the Dans, and it shows. According to Joseph and Foust, the philosophy behind the budding business is simple. Environmental stewardship, local economy and the enjoyment of the company's tag-line “Journey of Taste” are what keep them going.
But coffee isn't the only thing on the boil at Fojo. Recently, the roasters decided to cater to an increasing demographic of area tea and tisane (decaffeinated herbal tea blends) drinkers, too. Currently Fojo offers six different varieties of herbal teas and tisanes blended from sources around the world. Just like their coffees, the components of these blends are accountable back to their sources abroad. “Tea drinkers possess a unique and discerning palette,” said Joseph. “As drinkers, they usually don't drink coffee. Coffee drinkers aren't so picky – they'll drink tea; but a tea drinker seldom enjoys coffee,” he said.
Enjoying a hearty cup of well balanced coffee is a science. Part of the beauty of coffee is that it can be made as simple as poring water into a machine that brews it for you or as complex as a mathematical equation. And therein lies it's beauty, according to Fojo. “Many other roasters feel that educating the masses cup by cup is impractical—impossible even—but that's not how we feel,” said Foust. “A big part of what we do is educate the customer—We want to educate our consumers. If we educate them, they're going to know what to look for no matter where they go.” he added.
“We don't use the terms dark, medium or light in describing our roasts,” said Joseph. “We came to realize early on that most coffee drinkers unwittingly use terminology that is more often than not incorrect,” he added. “As it turns out,” Joseph explains, “what most people consider to be a ‘dark roast’ in reality is not. It's just what they have been duped into believing from commercial branding and marketing.”
According to Foust, it is not uncommon for the team to have people showing up at their farmers' market tent just for coffee consultations. “They may not even be there to buy coffee, but we can guide them to one of our blends that best suits their taste according to what they tell us,” said Foust.
Keeping money local is also a priory for Fojo. The company sources whatever they can from local non-commercial entities whenever possible. Anything outsourced, such as printing, advertising and design work, are all contracted locally. “It is our duty to support the local economy as much as we possibly can," said Joseph. "We owe a debt of gratitude to Ann Coe and the BID for all of their support of our vision over the past few years. Without them, this all would have been much more difficult,” he added. For more information and to see what's roasting at Fojo Beans, visit fojobeans.com. Fojo beans are available at a number local businesses and local farmers’ markets including:
• Solstice Whole Foods
• Peter's Cornucopia
• Made in Chenango
• The Caboose Diner
• The Parson's Daughter
• Bartle's Pharmacy
• Railroad Street General Store
• Jewett's Cheese House
• Norwich (Bullthistle)