Wendll’s new addition

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The recent purchase of an air coffee roaster marks the start of Wendll’s new business endeavor. | SOPHIA GEODERT PHOTOS

MEEKER | Wendll’s Coffee Shop has been an evolving local business for more than a decade. What started out as a retail and shipping business on Main Street turned into a coffee shop in 2008. From there it has grown into what owners Bobby and Wendy Gutierrez have been envisioning from the start. The coffee shop’s location changed in 2014, moving from Main Street to Market Street. After buying and renovating the historic 1904 building, Wendll’s became the coffee shop the community knows today.

When COVID-19 restrictions hit the town last March, the already short-seated business had to cut back on seating even more, resulting in the shop changing to a mostly takeout menu. While these restrictions disrupted how the Gutierrezes went about their daily life, it brought an opportunity for another change in the local business.

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“There’s a lot of restaurants in Meeker, so there’s always a lot of competition there. We are always looking for a way to set ourselves apart,” said Wendy. “And those opportunities started rolling into place with COVID actually.” Those opportunities include the purchase of a coffee roaster that now sits in the downstairs of the building. This roaster is the start of the couple’s new business, White River Roasters.

The two have many goals for their new business endeavor and with the help of former Rio Blanco Herald Times owner Mitch Bettis they hope to expand the roasting business to cover more than the obvious indications. Their initial goal is to supply fresh-roasted coffee for their coffee shop as well as selling their beans at local businesses. White River Roasters beans are already stocked at Watts Ranch Market, Trapper’s Lake Lodge & Resort, and Trail & Hitch. They hope their main profit will come from a fundraising component associated with White River Roasters, which Wendy describes as, “Girl Scout Cookies for coffee.”

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Over the next few weeks a fundraising opportunity will arise for the Barone Middle School (BMS) band and choir. After working with Band Director Randy Adams, the couple has created a way for the students to fundraise for the program through the means of subscriptions. The kids will sell coffee subscriptions to the community to help put money back into the band and choir program.

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The subscription is good for however much coffee a person would like on a weekly or monthly basis. A portion will end up going to a perpetuity fund while the rest goes back into the program. The coffee that gets sold will be delivered at the BMS band concert that is coming up in March. “It’s not going to be a one and done sort of deal,” Wendy said. The hope is that the subscriptions sold will help fund whatever program or trip the kid is fundraising for.

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For the three to four weeks that White River Roasters has been in business, they have been roasting progressively more often every week. Initially they were roasting about once a month and now they have started roasting every other day — soon to be every day if they continue at the rate they are selling.

There are many key components that go into roasting the perfect batch of beans. With beans from seven different countries there is a wide variety of product to roast, sell and buy. At the beginning of the process, all of the beans start out as the same grayish, green bean before getting transferred to the roaster. Here, the beans are roasted to the familiar shiny brown. The process involves a close watch on the air temperature that cooks the beans. The telling point for the beans is a loud crack, much like the first kernel that pops in popcorn. The beans are then poured out of the roaster into a metal container where they are stirred to cool. The whole process can last from 8-12 minutes until the beans ultimately receive the signature look and smell of coffee.

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The future look of the inside of the local coffee shop is changing, too. With the roaster taking up most of the downstairs space, seating has been moved upstairs. And in warm weather, outside seating will become the norm.

Wendll’s is located at 206 Market St., Meeker, Colorado, and is open Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. You can also locate their menu and more at http://www.wendlls.com.

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By Sophia Geodert – Special to the Herald Times

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