By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – What started out as a hobby quickly grew into a small business supplying commercial shops across the region. Now, local coffee roastery Broast Tennessee Coffee Roasters is planning to open its first storefront property near Cookeville’s Historic WestSide District.
“We’re just super stoked about the location and all that,” owner Zach Buckner, told the UCBJ. “It just worked out perfectly.”
Located at 17 W. Spring Street, “The Broastery” as it’s lovingly referred to, will serve as the new headquarters for Cookeville’s only commercial craft coffee roastery; offering plenty of room to meet current demand and future growth.
Work on the new storefront is already underway and is expected to wrap by the end of the month, Buckner says. The roastery is expected to open by early February.
“We’re working like gangbusters making that happen; pulling a lot of early mornings and late nights trying to make that all happen,” he said.
Broast, officially founded in 2015, takes internationally-grown coffee beans and roasts them right here in Cookeville. They offer a variety of single-origin and signature-blend coffees and specialize in fair-trade, organic coffees from around the world.
The Tri-Star Trio blend – a three-bean blend of Ethiopian, Brazilian and Guatemalan beans – is Broast’s flagship coffee, Buckner says, and a fan favorite.
Since announcing the news on social media, Buckner says one of the biggest questions he’s received is if there are plans to serve fresh-brewed coffees in addition to freshly roasted beans. The short answer – no.
“We primarily serve wholesale customers like coffee shops,” he explained.
Shops like Cream City, Poet’s, and Charity’s Bake Shop sell Broast coffee – both brewed and by the bag.
“We don’t want to do anything that’s going to cannibalize their businesses,” Buckner said.
After encouragement from friends, Buckner turned his coffee-roasting hobby into a small business. For the last three years, Broast has been operating out of Buckner’s home; more specifically, his basement.
“IT ALL JUST KIND OF STARTED AS A HOBBY OF MINE. WE REMODELED OUR BASEMENT AND MADE A ROASTERY IN THE KITCHEN DOWN THERE. WE JUST OUTGREW IT. THINGS WENT NUTS.” – ZACH BUCKNER, OWNER OF BROAST
Cream City was the first shop to give Broast a chance, Buckner says. Now, the Cookeville icon has its own exclusive Cream City roast that’s only sold there.
From Saturdays of selling coffee at the local farmers market to landing the opportunity to sell their product at Cream City, Broast has now grown to serve nine commercial shops across the Upper Cumberland and beyond; roasting roughly 300 to 350 bags of coffee per week. The company also recently landed a deal with IGA stores across middle and east Tennessee.
“I never in a million years would’ve thought this would be a thing,” Buckner said. “It really took off.”
Buckner says there are plans to offer cuppings, or tasting events, and tours of the facility in the future. All coffees are sold whole-bean and are roasted to order. All orders over $20 are delivered for free in the Cookeville area.
Currently, Broast is helmed by Buckner and his three-person staff. But, there are plans to eventually expand the employee base as the business grows.
“My goal is to help them have a better quality of life,” Buckner said. “Eventually, I would love to pay them a whole lot of money and have them have a lot of fun and have a good job that they love that’s really fun and unique. This is definitely a unique job for them.”
It’s not just his employees Buckner wants to take care of. He’s working alongside other roasteries to help grow the culture and benefit the region.
“There’s a neat culture here, just like with breweries where the breweries kind of have ‘coopetition,’ it’s the same with roasteries,” Buckner said, noting other roasters in the area. “I want to see roasteries thrive in general. I want us all to do well and so we actually partner, a lot of times, with other roasteries and just collaborate.”
He says a coffee roasters guild of the Upper Cumberland is in the works.
“It’s where we can just get together and talk about our practices and what’s working and what’s not,” Buckner said. “We want to see that culture just be revitalized in Cookeville and in the Upper Cumberland.”
To learn more about Broast, including a menu of available coffees, visit BroastTN.com or visit their Facebook page.