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In Middlebury, Iluminar Coffee Focuses on Transparent Sourcing

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Daniel Gutierrez, Iluminar Coffee beans - COURTESY OF DANIEL GUTIERREZ/ALESSANDRA DELIA-LOBO
  • Courtesy Of Daniel Gutierrez/Alessandra Delia-Lobo
  • Daniel Gutierrez, Iluminar Coffee beans

The specialty-coffee scene in Addison County continues to grow with the addition of small-batch roaster Iluminar Coffee, whose beans are currently sold online and at Lost Monarch Craft Coffee in Middlebury's Stone Mill Public Market.

Daniel Gutierrez is a coffee industry veteran and familiar face behind the bar at Lost Monarch and its sister shop, Middlebury's Royal Oak Coffee. He said he started his own roasting business to address two "frustrations" he has with the specialty-coffee industry: a lack of transparency in sourcing practices and a high barrier of entry for consumers.

"It's been awesome to see specialty-coffee roasters become more transparent about where their coffee is coming from and the numbers behind it," Gutierrez told Seven Days. "That being said, there's still a lot that needs to be done."

Gutierrez is sourcing from single farms through Florida-based importer Yellow Rooster. He plans to tell his customers both what he paid for the green coffee and what the farmer was paid.

"Buying coffee for $3 a pound has a different impact in Mexico versus Peru," Gutierrez said. "The cost of living is much higher in Mexico, so that dollar has a lot less weight. I want to shine a light on that and focus on stories and relationships, rather than just numbers."

Gutierrez packages his coffee in eight-ounce bags. He observed that customers are more willing to try something new when it comes in a smaller package while selling Winooski-based Vivid Coffee Roasters at Royal Oak, he said: "It's a lot more approachable, and a difference of a couple of ounces isn't a big deal to consumers."

Iluminar Coffee went live on February 22. Prices per bag range from $11 to $13.

"I wasn't expecting the amount I'd be selling right off the bat," Gutierrez said. He has signed a sublease with fellow Middlebury roaster Bud's Beans to use its equipment and space once or twice a week. "I saw this as a great opportunity to start off small and see where I can go from there," he said.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Illuminating Brew"