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Savvy Traveling with Penny Zibula: Nirvana in a Mug at Croakertown Coffee Company

Croakertown Coffee Company
Photo by: Simon Lock, Photos.MyEclecticImages.com

Where Freshness and Flavor Take Center Stage

How far would you go for a good cup of coffee? If you’re a serious coffee drinker and willing to drive to Oriental, Croakertown Coffee Company will make the trip more than worthwhile. There you’ll meet owner, Sally Pichette, and Rhonda, the red roaster that brings the best out of a wide variety of internationally sourced high-quality beans. Enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee and a fresh pastry at the coffee bar, learn about the process, and let Sally help you find the perfect brew for you.

On my first visit to Croakertown Coffee Company, I immediately fell in love with an Ethiopian light roast. that had a breath of blueberry in both aroma and taste.

This was not a flavored coffee. In fact, Croakertown Coffee doesn’t produce or sell the stuff. Sally explained that this, as well as other similar coffees, contain no flavoring or oils. It’s the processing that brings out subtle flavor characteristics.

A Scientific Approach to Producing Great Coffee

Introducing us to Rhonda, Sally poured in about five pounds of beans, and began the process. She controlled the drum speed, air speed, and gas on the red roaster to keep Rhonda on track. At Croakertown Coffee, producing high quality coffee is hands-on throughout the entire roasting. “It’s not a set it and forget it process,” Sally insisted.

And that’s just the beginning. One of Croakertown Coffee’s unique features is an onsite laboratory. This is where product development and quality control take place. The lab is outfitted with a wide assortment of brewing equipment used for testing ground beans from each roasted batch with different brewing methods.

Croakertown’s Community Commitment

Croakertown Coffee Company is both a retail and online business producing quality coffee, but Sally wants to do good while doing well. To this end, she sells coffee produced by women under the Moxi label. She also supports the work of the River Keepers and Habitat for Humanity of Craven County. The latter sells a custom Croakertown Coffee blend under its private label, to help raise funds to support its ongoing efforts. You can find the coffee at the Habitat ReStore.

The Face of Croakertown Coffee Company

Sally was born in Upstate New York and has an impressive 24 moves under her belt. She and her husband, Charlie arrived in Oriental from Washington, DC, where Sally worked for the FDA.

Having decided to change their lifestyle, a move out of the big city seemed a logical first step. The couple drove up and down the East coast looking for the right town in which to settle down. They loved New Bern, but it was a bigger town than what they had in mind. Then they found Oriental. “We met more people here than in seven years in DC,” Sally said.”

“We’re right where we want to be.”

So where does the coffee come in? Surprisingly, five years ago, neither Sally nor Charlie were big coffee drinkers. “That’s because we had never tasted good coffee,” Sally explained.

The couple learned they could roast their own coffee and ordered a small roaster online. “It tasted so good, I couldn’t believe it was coffee,” Sally recalled. And a coffee business was born. Sally and Charlie looked at several business models that had a coffee component but decided to do one thing and do it well.

Most of Croakertown Coffee Company’s business comes through mail order and online sales, but there’s nothing like dropping into the shop, trying a new blend, and getting a peek at how it’s done.

Sally’s Secrets for Stellar Coffee

Never, never store coffee in the refrigerator or freezer. A cool, dark place is the friendliest environment for storing coffee. Make sure the package is sealed tightly, or use a clean, dry, odor-free ceramic or stainless-steel container.

For best results, purchase enough whole beans to last you two to three weeks, and grind them yourself.

Speaking of grinders, give the ones with blades a pass, or use one for grinding whole spices. A burr grinder will do the best job for you.

If you encounter a sub-standard cup of coffee while out and about, just add a tiny sprinkle of salt. This will remove the bitterness.

To get Sally’s secret for making cold brew, you’ll have to visit Croakertown Coffee. And while there, take the time to understand the process that goes into making the best coffee possible. Then savor the flavors and aromas that abound while you discover your personal coffee nirvana.

Visit Croakertown Coffee Company at 108 Straight Rd. in Oriental, NC. For more information, call 252-577-1937, send them an email, or check out their website.

Penny Zibula is a freelance travel writer and blogger based in New Bern. Visit her blog at SixLegsWillTravel.com.

By Contributing Author, Penny Zibula