A former Navy veteran and nurse respectively, Red Barn owners Mark and Lisa Verrochi might not have been the most likely candidates to start a coffee roasting business when they founded their roastery in 1997, but they have been on the foreground of third wave coffee in the Boston area ever since. In fact, coffee has turned into a family business that the Verrochis excel at: their daughter Jenny recently founded her own cold brew company, Wild Barn Coffee Roasters, in Colorado, as well.
Red Barn roasts out of Upton, Massachusetts, but can also be found at several cafés across the state. Similar to many others in the food services industry, the pandemic threw a difficult wrench into operations. Red Barn had to temporarily lay off workers and come up with creative solutions for how to operate the roastery, including relying on small pods of employees at a time, such as relying on related pairs of workers, like siblings or a father-son duo, to cover different shifts. They also temporarily made a foray into offering groceries to continue to work with their vendors, crafted an espresso chocolate bar, and branched out creatively. I had the chance to talk on the phone with Mark last week, and it was really amazing to hear more about the process behind roasting and brewing, especially for their cold brew coffee, of which I am a huge fan. Red Barn was kind enough to send along a care-package style box with a variety of their offerings, which I’m excited to highlight and share with all of you.
First things first, let’s talk nitro cold brew. Red Barn has been brewing cold brew and offering it on tap in their cafes for the past twenty years. The blend they use is specifically formulated for the cold-brew process, using a toddy brewing system. The blend is a mix of different countries of origin, including 25% Costa Rican coffee, which adds a smokiness to the medium roast blend without being an overpoweringly dark French roast. The brew cycle is 12-18 hours, and the potent cold brew extract is then diluted with water to create a delicious end result. For their cans of nitro cold brew, which Red Barn started offering more recently in the past few years, they partner with Seabrook, NH-based NOBL Beverages, which has the tech to help perfectly infuse Red Barn’s coffee with a perfect nitro foam. With 240 mg of caffeine per can, Red Barn’s nitro cold brew tends toward a medium/dark roast, which tastes powerful and strong but is tempered well with the creaminess of the nitro foam.
However, Red Barn is known for their amazing roasted coffee perfect to enjoy in a cafe or brew hot at home, not just their cold brew. Among their many roasts, there are four I want to highlight that I’ve had the chance to try (all whole-bean coffee that I ground fresh myself, which really adds to the experience!).
First off, their Red Barn house blend is a solid everyday medium roast coffee– classic and can’t go wrong with whatever milk, sugar or add-ins you may want as a coffee drinker. They also recently started making this blend available in K-cups for all the Keurig users out there, which I was excited about from a convenience perspective living in a college dorm; K-cups and cans of coffee have been really dorm-friendly options.
There is also their 1715 blend, a medium roast coffee designed for cold brew with a mix of beans from South and Central America, offering a hint of smokiness. Obviously, this could be brewed hot too, but the low and slow extraction of cold brew works particularly well with the flavor profile of the coffee.
Another solid medium roast option is their Jack’ Abbey Brewer’s blend, with a mix of beans coming from South America and Indonesia. And for those who favor a light roast, check out their Brazil Cerrado– with notes of peanut brittle and milk chocolate, you can’t miss on this one, and it’s a light roast that isn’t overpoweringly bright or acidic.
I was so excited to try out more of Red Barn’s different blends, hear more about what it’s been like to grow their family business, navigate the pandemic, and continue to provide a high-quality coffee experience. Best of luck to Mark and Lisa and the rest of the Red Barn team as they emerge from the pandemic and continue providing a very essential high-quality cup of coffee!