BETHEL, Conn. --There's a bit of magic that happens at Redding Roasters in Bethel, and it's not just the smell of coffee percolating in the air.
Owner/Roaster Kaitlyn Heisler says it's all about community. She remembers watching her dad, Bill O'Keefe, become an integral part of the area over the years (he founded the company in 2004) when Heisler was 14.
"I spent a lot of time in the shop, both helping my dad run the store, and also interacting with customers," she said. "Even as a teenager, I picked up on what 'the regulars' bought, most of which still shop here today and drink the same varieties of coffee!"
Later in life, and prior to her father's passing, Heisler and husband owned and operated Captain's Catch Seafood, a small restaurant in Milford. When the choice arose to either change gears and run Redding Roasters herself or close the doors, the answer was easy.
"The world of coffee is a fascinating one, and one in which I learn new things every day," she said. "Each origin of coffee that I bring into the store has a story that goes back generations and involves every person who ever laid hands on the plant before we even learn of its existence.
"Being able to bridge the chasm between producing countries and your morning cup of coffee is the most exciting thing I could imagine doing."
To that end, Redding Roasters has morphed over the years. When O'Keefe first opened, his plan was to roast and sell coffee exclusively wholesale. But as soon as the town got a whiff of freshly roasted coffee, people started popping in and asking to buy coffee for themselves.
Adding a storefront counter was an easy addition, said Heisler, adding that everything about the space is eclectic. The menu board, for example, is on a vintage teachers chalk board, while the chairs are re-purposed with burlap bags that Redding's green coffee is shipped in.
Heisler, who lives in Redding, says it takes somewhat of a "'coffee matchmaker" to direct customers to a bean that she knows customers will enjoy, a part of her job that she loves.
Mostly, though, she said she enjoys interacting with the community and continuing to build the relationships that her Dad sparked years ago, "as well as start new ones each new day."
Redding Roasters is at 81 Greenwood Ave., (203) 739-0510, www.reddingroasters.com/ .
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