In the year after David Martin broke his femur skating at Longshore, he worked with physical therapist Paddy Jarit.
At every session, Martin was enticed by the aroma of coffee. Jarit roasted it at home, then brought it to the office to enjoy.
“I’m a coffee snob,” Martin says. “But I’d never tasted anything like that.”
Martin — a Westporter since 1999, whose 2 children graduated from Staples High School — is a real estate developer. But he developed a new idea: opening a local coffee roaster. Every bag would be roasted to order,
Better yet, the business would give back to the community, in every way it could.
In 2015, Solude Coffee opened on Sylvan Road South. The name evokes “solitude” — having a peaceful coffee in the morning before starting the day — and also sounds like “salut” in Italian.
From the start — continuing through a recent move to a larger facility on Norwalk’s Knight Street — coffee beans have come from the 3 main coffee- producing regions of the world: Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific.
Experts examine each shipment. They roast, brew and taste small batches. They use “hot air roasting,” a process using computer controlled ovens that brings out the full flavor of each bean without burning the edges (which creates a bitter aftertaste).
Every bag is roasted to order without chemicals, then delivered to customers in air-sealed bags. All coffee is certified fair trade, organic, and kosher.
Solude produces 58 different types of coffee. Each is special to the customer. The coffee delivered to Jr’s Deli on Riverside Avenue, for example, is unlike any other.
Solude’s customers include restaurants and coffee shops, senior and eldercare centers, golf courses, churches and synagogues, and colleges. Several schools have signed contracts after students selected Solude in taste tests.
The roaster also provides all advertising and graphics — and single-serve cups. (There are 2 types: all-recyclable and biodegradable.)
Solude’s “Coffee for Causes” program allows consultants and small business partners to contribute to causes they believe in: Circle of Care, Kids in Crisis, Norwalk Power Squadron and many more. Solude matches those contributions. Local clubs, PTAs, booster organizations and the like that purchase Solude coffee also receive contributions from the roaster.
The company offers jobs to people “others have forgotten.” Right now, for example, one of the 5 full-time employees is a client of STAR, which serves people with developmental disabilities.
David Martin has long since recovered from his broken hip. He no longer sips coffee at his physical therapist’s office.
He’s got all he needs, at his own special roaster.
(Hat tip: Evan Vishno)