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Grocer Boise Co-op Launches Bellwether-Powered Roasting Operation

Boise Co-op grocery coffee

The Bellwether Coffee roaster inside the front doors of the Boise (Idaho) Co-op. All images courtesy of Boise Co-op.

The Boise Co-op community-owned natural foods store in Boise, Idaho, has launched its own in-house small-batch coffee roasting program.

While freshly and locally roasted coffee has become a standard item on many grocery store shelves nowadays, and with many stores going so far as to partner with local roasters for their own private-label brands, rarely do grocery stores actually run their own sourcing, roasting and packaging operations.

bellwether coffee shop roaster

A Bellwether display. Daily Coffee News file photo by Nick Brown.

The Boise Co-op has not only joined the slim ranks of grocery stores that roast coffee, but has become the first ever to do so with the ventless electric, cloud-connected Bellwether roasting system. A Best New Product Award winner at this year’s Specialty Coffee Association, the Bellwether is designed to give smaller retailers an entry into the roasting business through high-tech and personalized assistance with sourcing and roasting, among other features. The Bay Area-based company raised $10 million in Series A funding last August.

“We are the first grocer in the world to roast on a Bellwether,” Boise Co-op CEO Michelle Andersen told Daily Coffee News. “We have a bulk coffee system that features local roasters, including Dawson Taylor and DOMA. We also sell bagged coffee from local roasters on our shelves, which now includes the Boise Co-op house-roasted coffees.”

Boise Co-op grocery coffee

Boise Co-op grocery coffee

Anderson the Bellwether system that’s installed right inside the store’s front doors doesn’t replace the store’s existing coffee-buying program and partnerships with other roasters; it simply adds something new.

“We were looking for an innovative product that brings excitement and interest to our customers, and that also fit within our ethos as a company — sustainable, transparent, gives back, to name a few,” Anderson told DCN. “We loved the ease of use and questions we get to answer when roasting a batch of coffee. We also love that there’s a give-back component, through their ‘tip the farmer’ program. We are donating $0.25 for every pound sold through the program.”

Boise Co-op grocery coffee

Boise Co-op grocery coffee

Boise Co-op Culinary Director Jin Soo Yang oversees the coffee program and has placed the Boise Co-op Stand Up Blend as a featured batch brew alongside other locally roasted options at the store’s deli bar, where espresso drinks are made on a La Marzocco Linea machine and batch brews descend from a Fetco brewer.

The Stand Up Blend is one of three roasts developed specifically for the Co-op in collaboration with the experts at Bellwether. There is also no intention of reducing the volume or variety of offerings from other local companies, according to Anderson.

Boise Co-op grocery coffee

Boise Co-op grocery coffee

“We are excited to continue to feature local coffee products on our shelves and in our drip coffee program,” said Anderson. “We are always looking for ways to continually collaborate with local roasters.”

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