This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published August 19, 2020
What would you use a stove-top popcorn popper for? Think beyond the obvious here. Think of Matt Resnisky. He used his stove-top popcorn popper to roast coffee. It was just a hobby then. Now it’s his business, Deep River Roasters, a specialty coffee roasting business Matt has operated for two years.
He is the roaster, the salesman, the deliveryman—in fact, the sole full-time employee. He gets help from his wife Bethe, a kindergarten teacher at Essex Elementary School, and sometimes an added assist from his three daughters.
Matt chose the company’s name because he and his family live in Deep River and, equally important, the domain name was available. The business itself is in Centerbrook.
And yes, the popcorn popper days are over. Matt has a commercial hot air roaster.
Matt is roasting 11 different kinds of beans, for both wholesale and retail clients. Among the coffee shops that use his beans is The Nest in Deep River.
“They told me they had sampled beans and chosen mine,” he says.
On a recent morning, making deliveries, Matt ran into two fans of his roasts, who followed him on social media, at a coffee shop in New London. According to Matt, they told him his was the best coffee around.
“I’ve had people tell me they love my coffee, but never randomly like that. Made me feel good inside. It’s a different level of job satisfaction to know what I do makes other people happy,” he notes.
Even before he started a coffee roasting business, coffee figured significantly in Matt’s life. He proposed to Bethe over cups of coffee at a shop in Maine. He suggests the perfect coffee to propose with might be a latte with a heart drawn in the foam on the top.
Still in his popcorn-popper roasting days, friends started to tell Matt his beans were good enough to sell. The suggestion came at an opportune moment in his life. As he explains it, corporate America was no longer fueling his passions. He had worked in both entertainment and sales and was ready for a change.
But opening his own business was an adventure.
“Failure was a real motivator,” he confesses.
Roasting coffee beans, according to Matt, is as much an art as a science.
“It’s a dark art, like baking, but when you get that perfect cupcake, it gives you that moment,” he says.
Still, achieving that moment can be tricky. There are lots of slips between bean and lips. Matt says the best way to make a cup of coffee is to grind the beans, only as much as needed, just before preparation. That gives the best aroma and flavor to the cup. He has another bit of advice: Put away the coffee scoop and use a scale. Different beans require different amounts of ground coffee.
“The biggest mistake people make is not weighing the coffee,” he says.
Matt grew up in Bloomfield and spent summers at Black Point in Niantic. He majored in journalism at Norwich University in Vermont and his first job as a tour guide at CNN headquarters in Atlanta in 1996. The summer Olympics were held in Atlanta that year and Matt recalls meeting athletes who were coming on the tours.
Matt himself is a runner; in fact, several years ago he started a local road race that now attracts runners from all over the country, the Steam Train Half Marathon. The race, which starts in Essex and ends in Deep River, raises money for non-profit organizations. It’s the only marathon in the United States where runners compete not only against each other but against train. Spectators can follow along the runners’ route on the train.
When he was a high school and captain of his boys’ cross-country team, Matt had an experience well out of the ordinary while he was running: He rescued a member the girl’s cross-country team who had fallen into a flooded culvert and was in danger of drowning. His actions earned him a West Hartford Police Citizens Award in 1990. He was also interviewed on ESPN, but has never been able to locate the footage.
Matt did make it onto local television for a story on a spectacular goof in 2012 when he went to the technical help counter of a computer store to get some tips about backing up the 20,000 songs in his computer’s music library. Instead, the technician managed to delete them all. Undaunted, Matt has amassed new music collection.
Matt tries to cap his own coffee drinking at four a day, though sometimes a fifth cup slips in. He never drinks any after three o’clock in the afternoon. In the morning, he has a cup of dark roast with Bethe, her favorite. When he gets to the office, he switches to light or medium roast, which he prefers.
Cream and sugar? Admitting to a sweet tooth, he says his own coffee usually has a little sugar, but what, if anything, to put in coffee is a personal preference.
“It’s not my job to tell people what is right or how to enjoy something. Everybody has their own opinions,” he says.