Two Local Roasters Gamble on In-Person Coffee Cafes in Ambler

Sam Scavuzzo, for the Shuttle

Despite the pandemic, two Weavers Way coffee vendors grew their businesses with new Ambler coffee shops in 2020. Co-op members may be familiar with purchasing whole or ground coffee beans from Wake Coffee and Backyard Beans Coffee Company. Now, fans of their brews can support these family roasters at two new cafes located only blocks away from the Co-op’s Ambler store.

Wake, based in Ambler, was born from a married couple’s love of coffee. Christina Rizzettta and Alec Satterly met working corporate day jobs and found a shared passion for a cup of Joe. They started roasting for fun and selling their creation at local farmers’ markets. “I have a background in science, so I found working with coffee was very similar,” Rizzettta said.

Over time, the endeavor grew more serious, and Rizzetta quit her day job to focus on roasting full-time. Wake evolved into an online and wholesale business, with Weavers Way as a customer.

“We looked for people who take pride in what they are serving and how people can contribute to the community,” Rizzetta said. “We appreciated that Weavers Way takes pride in its craft and as a member of the community.”

The love of community inspired Wake to transform from a wholesaler to a direct-to-consumer operation with a new shop at 133 South Main Street in Ambler. “People liked the coffee, and we wanted them to experience the brand and coffee together,” Rizzetta said.

For Laura and Matt Adams, Backyard Beans is similarly a family affair. As the name indicates, the couple began roasting on a Weber grill in their Lansdale backyard in 2013. Over time, they began selling their roasts at farmers’ markets and stores, including Weavers Way. The Adamses formerly lived in East Falls, so they were excited to partner with the Co-op as a bulk buyer.

After a few years, Backyard Beans wanted to transition into a direct-to-consumer business. “My wife, three kids and I lived six blocks from the Lansdale café. At the time, there was no specialty coffee shop in Lansdale, and we needed more production space,” Matt Adams said.

They opened a shop that gave them more space to roast and serve their own community. “It’s extraordinarily advantageous for our brand and business to connect with our community,” Matt said. “Buying in person is way more personal than picking up a bag from a shelf.”

The Adamses set their sights on expanding to Ambler, a community similar to Lansdale where it already had a footprint due to the Co-op and selling at the farmers’ market. The Ambler store, located at 22 East Butler Avenue, opened last November after a COVID-19 delay.

Matt Adams got into the coffee business after a career in consulting that focused on crisis management. “With COVID, it’s impacted businesses differently,” he said. “In the grocery space, it’s been a good year. But in coffee, we had to pivot to adapt to online, preorder and take-out options.”

At Wake, Rizzettta said the pandemic lockdown at first was difficult to maneuver. “We had to think fast in order to be safe for our employees and customers. Now we have a plan in place,” she said. “Takeout has always been part of the coffee culture. But we had to figure out how to give everyone the same customer experience with plexiglass there.”

Despite the challenges of 2020, both roasters remain hopeful. “It’s a different challenge every day with the pandemic,” Matt said. “But I think we live in an area where there is a fundamental understanding that you should support local.”