Welcome to 068 – Roasted, Father-Son Duo Launches Coffee Roaster in Ridgefield
by Bridget Shirvell
Coffee is a necessity, sure, but it’s also a way of bringing faraway places into your kitchen. A cup of coffee made from single-origin beans grown on a small farm in Nicaragua, Colombia, or Ethiopia has the power to transport, to let us feel however briefly, close to the land and the farmer that grew the beans. Getting those beans from small farmers, however, can often be a challenge.
Enter Quartertone Coffee, a Ridgefield-based coffee roaster that opened in April 2021. Created by father-son duo Bob and Will Ponturo, Quartertone Coffee sells three to four single-origin coffees each month and two blends. They hand-select the beans from small farmers, and focus on sourcing from a diversity of countries within coffee growing regions.
“We’re trying to cut as many middle people as possible and work directly with the farms,” says Will. “We’ve spent some time on the farms with the families, getting to know them. Building that relationship is important and allows us to say ‘hey can we try this?’ We can get more experimental.”
Originally from the area, Will went to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and stayed in the city after school where he fell in love with roasting beans while working as a barista.
“I found it so interesting, I wanted to get into it,” says Will. “I roasted at home in a tiny popcorn maker and eventually found another company looking for a roaster.”
Meanwhile, Bob and Will were talking about opening a business together.
“I kept saying if he ever wanted to move back down this way, we’d open up a business together,” says Bob adding that the two have always had a really close relationship with pretty easy communication. “We have a good strong relationship; we work well together and we listen to each other, there’s no quarreling.”
Will moved back to Connecticut in the fall of 2020, and the two spent the next few months preparing to open their business, finding a small space they could rent in the Nod Hill Brewery building on Ethan Allen Highway.
When a new batch of beans comes in, Will looks at the farmer’s notes, the elevation of where the tree grows, the way the bean was processed and considers how other similar coffees were roasted to determine how to roast the beans. After a first roast, he might adjust the next batch until he gets it to the taste he wants.
“We want to make sure we’re only selling the best possible version of each coffee, however many batches that takes,” Will says. Each bag of coffee features artwork by different artists, many of them family friends, although in recent months, they’ve been approached by artists as far away as the United Kingdom to do
“We’re trying to do things a little differently than people have been doing,” says Will. Since April, Quartertone Coffee has sold its bags to several cafes and markets and direct to consumers via its website. They offer free delivery in Ridgefield. They hope to get their coffee in more cafes and then one day to brew and serve it directly to consumers, possibly with some sort of mobile coffee truck.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name. Quartertone is a musical term for the notes between the notes representing their experimental ethos.
For more information, visit quartertonecoffee.com. •