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Side Dishes: Speeder & Earl's leases larger roasting space

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Speeder & Earl's on Pine Street
  • Speeder & Earl's on Pine Street

Is Speeder & Earl’s Coffee on its way to becoming another local microroasting empire? Possibly. A few weeks ago, Speeder & Earl’s was picked up by Fletcher Allen Health Care, where it will soon debut in the Main Street and Harvest Cafés. On the heels of that coup, Speeder & Earl’s owners Jessica Workman and Jeannie Vento have signed a lease on a 5000-square-foot building in Williston, into which they’ll move their roasting operation.

“We’ve been thinking about the move for a long time, and we’ve had more business than we can handle,” says Workman. For close to 20 years, the back half of the duo’s 2000-square-foot Pine Street space has been devoted to roasting. A previous plan to move — in 2008 — fell through when the economy tanked.

The Fletcher Allen account “was the final straw. We were already packed up to our eyeballs,” Workman says. “We finally hit the point where we can’t do it anymore. We were actively suppressing growth.” Workman will oversee the relocation of all the roasting equipment to an Avenue D building with five times as much office, manufacturing and production space, to which she plans to bring a second roaster and a few extra employees.

Speeder & Earl’s currently roasts between 7000 and 10,000 pounds of coffee beans per month, a huge bump up from the trickle with which the company began in 1993. Workman says she never expected the roasting side of the business to explode this way: Speeder & Earl’s has wholesale accounts throughout the country, with the highest concentration in the Northeast.

As other businesses in the South End have grown, seating can get scarce in the front café — so Workman plans changes there, too. Come next summer, just in time for Speeder & Earl’s 20th anniversary, the Pine Street café will have more seating, she says, and have a horseshoe-shaped bar with USB ports and outlets to accommodate the sipping, laptop-tapping masses. The roaster’s line of beans and blends may also expand, as will pastry offerings.

For now, though, relocating the roasting operation takes precedence. “We’ve got a lot to do,” Workman says.

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