Candlestick Coffee: Chasing success one roast at a time

Zach Smith, owner and operator at the newly opened Candlestick Coffee Roasters in Corrales, in front of his new Mill City Roaster.
(Stephen Montoya / Rio Rancho Observer)

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A year-long trip around the world inspired one of Corrales’s newest businesses.

Candlestick Coffee Roasters, 4940 Corrales Road, Suite 500, across the street from Ex Novo Brewery, has been in operation for nearly a month, according to owner Zach Smith.

“It was me and my wife’s travels around the world for that one year that kind of kick-started us wanting to create a cool space that offered hospitality and awesome roasted coffee,” Smith said. “We lived in a van and were shown awesome hospitality by the people we worked for everywhere went along our journey.”

The couple did odd jobs to support themselves during that year.

Smith said he and his wife, Courtney, were living in the Denver area when they decided they wanted to relocate to a smaller community to start their business.

“We wanted to seek some new spaces, new scenery, and we have family that already lived in Albuquerque,” he said. “Then we ran across Corrales and thought this would be an awesome place to start our new business.”

The “candlestick” in the name refers to the valuable candlesticks in Victor Hugo’s book “Les Miserables,” Smith said. The protagonist and ex-convict, Jean Valjean, steals them from a bishop, who tells the police they were a gift and insists Valjean keep them when he is caught, changing Valjean’s life.

Despite the name, which Smith said can be confusing, Candlestick Coffee Roasters is not a coffee shop per se. However, Smith said he will offer anyone stopping in a cup of coffee on what he calls the “tip-if-you-can plan.”

Candlestick Coffee Roasters owner Zach Smith has a “tip-if-you-can” policy at the to-go counter, where he will make customers a cup of coffee. It’s up to them if they want to pay for it.
(Stephen Montoya / Rio Rancho Observer)

“We are a coffee roaster first and foremost,” he said. “We do have plans on opening a coffee shop eventually, but for now our main product is roasting green coffee with a to-go counter.”

Smith said he and his wife saved nearly $25,000 to start their roasting business in the just-over-700-square-foot space. A good portion of their investment went into a state-of-the-art roaster called a Mill City Roaster.

“I had to get an education on how to run the roaster, and then we sourced our beans from a sister company that kind of works with the roaster company,” he said.

Smith said his roaster can produce about 7 pounds of fresh beans in one roast.

“If I stand at the roaster all day, I can do a couple hundred pounds in a day,” he said.

Smith said his business sources high-quality beans, which are on a point system like a wine.

Candlestick Coffee Roasters also carries over a half-dozen types of high-end coffee beans that can be blended and roasted at select temperatures to render unique flavors.

“I am working on getting some blends going, but for now, it’s just single origin stuff,” he said.

A 12-ounce bag of fresh roast can range anywhere from $13 to $16, depending on where the beans come from, Smith said.

“They are whole-bean, but I can grind it,” he said. “I usually only have whole bean because it stays fresher.”

Smith says he also offers personal free delivery of his beans in Corrales.

“I want to roast great coffee, and I want us to be a positive presence in whatever community that we are in,” he said.

For more info on Candlestick Coffee Roasters, go to candlestickcoffee.com.

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