In the first of what we hope will be an ongoing, occasional series on local businesses and their place in the Queen City, Emeran Langmaid describes the allure of opening a coffee shop in downtown Manchester.
A&E Custom Coffee Roastery is an award-winning coffee roaster based in Amherst, and founded by Emeran Langmaid in 2001. Given her background in textiles and manufacturing, the Queen City is a natural place for Langmaid’s latest endeavor: the A&E Coffee & Tea cafe that recently opened in the former J Dubs space in downtown Manchester.
“Why Manchester?” I get that question a lot. In fact, I ask that question a lot. What makes Manchester a good place to open a business, a craft coffee and tea cafe nonetheless? Now that I am open, I daily rely on my answer to that question.
The hard facts are that Manchester is one of the larger cities in New England. It is continuing to grow and get favorable rankings as a “great place to live and work” among leading magazines such as Forbes and Money. For a coffee/tea cafe, those are great statistics. However, that alone is not why I opened a second location in Manchester.
You see, at the core, I am an underdog. I like the raw and grittiness that eventually produces something amazing and beautiful. I started a coffee roasting company with two pennies rubbed together, and have grown it to a successful, sustaining company that employs people, creates an environment where everyone is welcome, and has a net positive impact on all we touch; coffee and tea producers all the way to our customers. We take tremendous care and pride in our product and want to pass along that enjoyment to all around us. Manchester has its own underdog history with the rise and fall of the textile industry. It is certainly on the upswing, but as with us all, has areas of improvement.
At the same time, the craft movement across the country has reinvented the art of production. In our high-intensity, instant gratification, efficient world, the appreciation of craft in any avenue of life is resurging. Manchester is prime to embrace this movement. As a craft coffee roastery/tea cafe, we are positioning ourselves to be one of the expeditors. We are not a pioneer, as there have been other businesses to embrace and promote craft ahead of us. However, we are taking up the charge as the craft coffee and tea cafe: we roast our own beans and blend several of our teas; we take a culinary approach to our specialty drinks including our milk infusions for lattes and our Toddy Hop cold extracted hoppy iced coffee; we follow WBC (World Barista Competition) standards for our in-house espresso and cappuccinos, as well as coordinate and host Latte Art competitions; and we pass along our knowledge by teach classes on how to cup coffee using the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) cupping protocol as well as tea analysis using the STI (Specialty Tea Institute) protocol. In other words, we are bona fide and qualified.
We are just getting started in Manchester. We have yet to realize our full potential, and certainly the residents and employees in downtown have yet to fully realize us. However, both Manchester and A&E Coffee & Tea are in the flux of moving from latent potential to realized potential, and that makes me want to be right where I am at 1000 Elm Street.