Field Trip to Summit Coffee

This past month I made the worthwhile journey down the mountain to Summit‘s Roastery in Cornelius, North Carolina.

What timing! On a Monday morning, the team of 3 at Summit‘s roastery, was just getting going on their weekly cupping. These coffee geeks, if I may say, are diligent about tasting every single bean that they purchase or think about purchasing.

Owner Tim Helfrich
Owner Tim Helfrich

Even though owners & brothers Brian Helfrich and Tim Helfrich (seen above) have been in coffee for many many years as coffee shop owners and baristas, they just ventured into the roasting biz this past July. And wow! They’ve really perfected their roasts in just 5 months.

Summit Coffee's new roasting space
Summit Coffee’s new roasting space

Their Rutas del Inca from Peru, featured in the October Coffee Crate was one of my personal favorites. I keep going back to this bag of beans. It’s so doughy and chocolaty. If my grandmother’s poppyseed bread was in coffee form, this would be it! (PS. Coming from moi, that’s an enormous compliment.)

Evan Pollitt, roaster at Summit Coffee
Evan Pollitt, roaster at Summit Coffee

The folks at Sustainable Harvest send over green beans regularly for Summit to roast and sample in the quest to find the most delicious variety for their college town community near Lake Norman. The folks in the Lake Norman region are super lucky to have such amazing coffee available from their local roaster and coffee shop downtown Davidson.

Summit coffee shop downtown Davidson, NC
Summit coffee shop downtown Davidson, NC

And here’s their brand spanking new San Francisco roaster! Isn’t it beautiful!?!

San Francisco Roaster
San Francisco Roaster

 

 

Sanfrancisco Roaster
San Francisco Roaster

 

Sanfrancisco Roaster
San Francisco Roaster

 

Sanfrancisco Roaster
San Francisco Roaster

(I took a lot of pictures of their roasting equipment, because it’s gorgeous!)

The lead roaster, Evan Pollitt, was interviewed:
Where and when did you begin working in the coffee industry?

I started working for Summit Coffee as a barista in March of 2014.

Owner Tim Helfrich, left, with Lead Roaster and Director of Coffee, Evan Pollitt, right
Owner Tim Helfrich, left, with Lead Roaster and Director of Coffee, Evan Pollitt, right

Where does Summit source beans?

We are currently working with several different importers to bring in coffees from all over the world. While we aim to have a diverse and global portfolio, finding great unique coffees is more important than filling out our portfolio.

Could you explain how your roasting process affects how the coffee tastes?

There is no way to add any flavor to the coffee bean that isn’t already there. What we aim to do in sample roasting and purchasing is find coffees that have unique and complex inherent properties. After that we try to find a roast profile that best highlights those qualities in the beans.

Owner Tim Helfrich, left, with brother and Owner, Brian Helfrich, right
Owner Tim Helfrich, left, with brother and Owner, Brian Helfrich, right

What’s your perfect cup of coffee?

A cup of coffee I can drink all day and find something different with each sip.

What excites you the most about roasting coffee and participating in the coffee industry?

There’s always something new. One of our favorite things is sampling and tasting new coffees. At the same time, there’s something really comforting about coffee and being able to share that experience with people is exciting.

Lead Roaster and Director of Coffee, Evan Pollitt, left, Owner, Brian Helfrich, center, with Owner Tim Helfrich, right
Lead Roaster and Director of Coffee, Evan Pollitt, left, Owner, Brian Helfrich, center, with Owner Tim Helfrich, right

What’s next for Summit? Are there any new roasts your exciting about or experimenting with?

We try new coffees weekly, always looking for new things to bring in. This is our first year operating as a roaster and we are really excited as we go through this first cycle of coffee harvest seasons.

Summit Coffee cupping
Summit Coffee cupping

When you’re not doing coffee, what are you up to? 

Summit has a really involved community. We have live music several nights a week, a weekly pint club, and a racing series. Personally, I just ran my first 50K in Brevard, NC and plan to do a few more! I also recently started playing the banjo.

This interview and photographs are brought to you by Angie Rainey with Coffee Crate, a North Carolina-based coffee subscription service.

Coffee Crate stems from the idea that the best roasts are local. We offer a genuine North Carolina experience by delivering quality coffee to your door each month. We carefully choose a selection of our favorite local beans from roasters who take great pride in their product. We simplify coffee drinking by choosing the best roasts from our great state and deliver them freshly roasted straight to your door.

Each month we are dedicated to finding the best tasting assortment of roasts that uniquely compliment each other. Coffee Crate is perfect to enjoy and share. Let us enhance your morning by bringing you something new. Expect consistently amazing coffee, personalized service, and occasional surprises.

Angie Rainey, Coffee Curator, is taking the guesswork out of selecting what coffee to buy for your morning (or afternoon, let’s face it) caffeine ritual. Mother of two young’uns, this barista turned entrepreneur needs lots of delicious coffee to fuel her day. Currently headquartered in Asheville, NC, we are a group of coffee- loving North Carolinians, who want to discover and share what our local artisans have to offer.