Dartmouth man finds new career in high-end coffeeBy SIMON RIOS , Associated Press
Nov. 10, 2013 12:16 AM ET
DARTMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — The story behind Cary Isaac's business — 1773 Roasters — gets increasingly fascinating with each answer. A molecular biologist-cum-high school physics teacher-cum- trader in top-notch roasted coffee, Isaacs opened shop in August — based on an essay his son wrote for a college application.
"I thought that was a wonderful idea," said Isaacs, 47, with a large smile. "And teaching wasn't working for me."
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Isaacs lived in the Boston area for 15 years, much of which he spent with a firm specializing in the manufacturing of human skin.
He moved to Dartmouth, where he became a stay-at-home dad for his three kids, while his physician wife brought home the bacon.
He said four years ago he began preparing to be a teacher, landing his first job at Fairhaven High School — it only took three months for him to realize it wasn't for him.
"I was all set to become a teacher, and I got my first job and it wasn't what I thought it was," he said.
"Teaching isn't necessarily teaching — there's a lot of babysitting going into teaching."
That was around the time his son was applying for colleges, one of which required a supplemental essay about getting into business. He wrote about a business selling coffee.
The rest was history. Isaacs and his son traveled to Costa Rica over the summer to get to know the people who make it possible to export coffee — from the farmers to the factories to the exporters.
"I think it gives you a connection to the farmers and the coffee," he said of his travels. "You just get connected with the people, the farmers and the work they're doing. You get to see how proud they are of what they're doing and how meaningful it is that it's their means for income."
Costa Rica is one source. He also gets his green beans from Bolivia and Brazil, and hopes to expand as his business grows.
Although he's only been in business a few months, Isaacs said he made various mistakes in the beginning because he was unaware that coffee roasting was regulated as a food product. By state law he said he was required to buy a manufactured roaster for $12,000 — after he spent $1,000 in parts (and nearly two months of work) making one of his own that in his view works just as well.
"It might be more useful to have another set of (state) regulations for coffee, because I wouldn't say it was a waste of time and money, but it was a lot of time and money for very small amounts of benefits — in my case."
Isaacs sells in amounts as small as a half pound, for $16 a pound. Delivery is free of charge.
That's a huge perk for customer Jay Corey of Dartmouth, who owns a medical consulting company and has been drinking 1773 coffee for months.
"I'm usually a Dunkin' Donuts guy," he said. "I just go and buy a pound of coffee. But since I got (coffee from) him it's been eye-opening for us."
Corey said his wife had quit coffee because of it gave her the jitters.
"I said, 'Honey this is delicious, freshly-brewed' ... and she tried it and it's working out really good for us."
When she tried 1773 coffee, however, a top-grade, organic product, the jitters went away.
Corey praised Isaacs' "impeccable service," willing to drop off coffee first thing Sunday morning in response to a text from the previous night.
Corey also said he looks forward to picking Isaacs' brain to learn more about the bean, which happens to be the world's second most valuable commodity (next to oil) and the top agricultural import in the U.S.
1773 Roasters is based out of the shared kitchen at the Dartmouth Grange, where Isaacs estimates he pays a fraction of the cost of opening his own kitchen. He hopes to do that in any case as business expands, in addition to a cafe to sell the brewed version of what he now only sells as beans.