We recently, went to the Napa Valley to reconnect to the village/now city of Napa, where I was best man at the wedding of our son more than 20 years ago. While there recently we came across Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, owned by Ben and Charlie Sange, which first opened its doors in downtown Napa in 1985.
They were one of the first local [pre-Starbucks] coffee roasting companies in the Napa Valley, modeled upon European cafes and housed in a landmark Victorian building.
Personal aside: If one needed a photo to illustrate what a quintessential pre-Starbucks coffee house looks like then the photos here will do nicely. And, it made me smile to discover Napa Valley Coffee Company had its original swinging screen door behind the main door. Reminded me of entering my Godfather's ranch in New Mexico and the late but never forgotten “My heaven’s they’re tasty” rib joint in the Sonoma Valley, near Glen Ellen. Cranky old screen doors are so cool.
Yes, the Napa Valley is a remarkable wine-growing region, and while you’re there tasting the nectar of the grapes, Napa Valley Roasting Company is an oasis amid the vineyards for that needed hit of coffee. They mastered our cortados.
In 1991, a second location opened in downtown St. Helena, the site where the company’s roasting is done. To its credit, NVRC remains the supplier of signature coffee blends for some of Napa Valley’s most acclaimed restaurants and wineries, in addition to businesses beyond the Valley.
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NVRC carries about nine or ten single-origin coffees from Indonesia, Africa, and the Americas. Its roasting profiles are designed to maximize the flavors each origin brings to the finished cup of coffee. They roast coffees in roughly 20-pound batches, ensuring the highest possible quality. Beans are roasted 4 to 6 nights a week for maximum freshness.
During pandemic times, NVRC is scheduling coffee tastings by appointment only, but co-owner Ben Sange said to email him when you expect to be in the area and he'll work on setting up a tasting. The tastings are held out of its St. Helena shop. We’re going to sign up and report on that experience in a later blog but for now, here’s what NVRC’s website says about its tasty tasting:
From NVRC: Our tasting is a great way for guests to experience and gain an understanding of the difference among single-varietal coffees, roasts and blends. The tasting begins with a short educational slideshow about the coffees we provide – during which we will also show you our Probat roaster and explain how our coffee is roasted.
Next, the tasting!
We will provide single varietals from three different growing regions: the Americas (Guatemala, Mexico, or Colombia), Africa (Ethiopia), and Indonesia (Sumatra or Timor). While tasting, we will identify and discuss the flavor and aromatic characteristics unique to each coffee.
Guests will also experience the strength of a French Roast, and then a blend comprised of a flavorful combination of coffees from the three previously tasted growing regions. The tasting concludes with each guest receiving a 12 oz. bag of coffee-based upon their favorite aromas and flavors from the coffees. Tastings are held in our St. Helena location (where our roaster is located). The cost is $95 per couple and $15 for each additional person, up to a total of four people. For more information, contact BSange@napavalleycoffee.com