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Rojo’s Roastery Tapped by Top Philly Chef

October 25, 2010

By Pat Tanner

Since 2006, when David Waldman opened the doors to Rojo’s Roastery—his coffee café and small-batch roasting operation in Lambertville—he has been determined, he says, to go “beyond fair trade” to source the very best beans directly from small, independent producers in every coffee-growing region in the world. This “seed-to-cup” approach paid off in a big way this past July when superstar-chef Jose Garces chose Waldman to develop a signature line of coffees for his stable of acclaimed Philadelphia restaurants, as well as for his new gourmet market and café, Garces Trading Company.

“Garces had visited coffee farms in Guatemala,” Waldman says of the James Beard-award winning chef. “He became fascinated and wanted a local artisan to deliver with the same passion and attention to detail that he himself has when developing his restaurants.” Waldman and his staff studied the menus and operations at Garces’ restaurants, which include Amada, Tinto, Distrito, Chifa, Village, and Whiskey.

“We devoted a whole line of beans just to them. It’s their labels and packaging, our beans,” Waldman explains. “Their custom blend is GTC Reserva.” This blend is also being served at the two newest Garces ventures, just opening: JG Domestic, a restaurant and bar featuring food and drink sourced 100% from U.S. suppliers, and GTC Coffee Kiosk. Both are located in Philadelphia’s Cira Centre.

Rojo’s Roastery is, in fact, several businesses. One is the wholesale roastery tapped by Garces; another is the café and shop, situated in a high-ceilinged industrial space at 243 North Union Street, a few blocks from the center of town. It offers packaged beans, brewed coffee and tea drinks, locally made panini, sweet treats, and Bent Spoon ice cream, as well as what Waldman terms “best of breed” home coffee brewing equipment.

Three brewed daily coffee selections at the café include a single origin (mild Costa Rican on one visit), the house blend of the day (e.g., full-bodied Italian), and an espresso house blend that Waldman continues to tweak. The public is also welcome to join him for special cuppings and tastings by contacting him through the website: rojosroastery.com.

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