Just over 18 years ago, Starbucks had just purchased the Coffee Connection. John Parks figured it was the perfect time to open up a coffee bean roasting business.
Armeno Coffee Roasters on Otis Street opened on April 1 of 1994.
The idea of starting a business from scratch was familiar to Parks. When he was a kid, his mom started a gourmet food business from some friends. Called A Moveable Feast, it was located in an old corner drugstore in Philadelphia.
"I started working there when I was about ten," said Parks. "I worked for a couple of caterers in high school and college. I grew up in a foodie family and it has always been an interest of mine. Roasting coffee and selling wine is a continuation of my interest in gourmet food."
Locally, Armeno's coffees are available at Berberian Farm, Lowe's Variety, Roche Brothers in Westborough, Water Fresh Farm in Hopkinton and "hopefully more locations soon." Romaine's also serves Armeno's roasts and other cafes and restaurants.
Visitors are welcome to experience and learn about the roasting process at the historic grist mill on Otis Street from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
At the Armeno Coffee Roasters store, freshly roasted coffee from around the world is available, and regular wine tastings take place in the fall and winter.
"A lot of people don’t realize that coffee is a seed of a fruit," said Parks. "Where the coffee is grown and how it is handled after being picked play a huge part in the quality of the coffee. We source our coffee from small farms around the world. We only buy the green coffee that meets our high standards. After tasting really great freshly roasted coffee it is hard for most people to go back to the stuff that comes out of a can."