Did you know that the best time to taste anything is first thing in the morning? When you think about it, it makes sense that our taste buds would be at their freshest and most sensitive then. That’s why at Tangle, we often advise customers to adopt a routine of enjoying a sliver or two of our chocolate with their morning coffee. It’s the ideal time to sip and savor. So it is only natural that we are collaborating with owners Liza and Matt Bousquet of YUP Coffee Roasters, the talented new roasters in town, in order to bring you the most perfect pairing of these delectables. Here’s a little more information about both YUP and that collaboration.
YUP Coffee Roasters opened its doors in Florence, Massachusetts in June of 2018, but the idea was hatched long before. Matt was working in an Amherst bakery and Liza had recently returned from California where she worked in sustainable agriculture and as a personal chef. The two began dating, and soon were dreaming of opening a bakery together where they would serve coffee from beans they had roasted themselves.
But the more they thought about it, the more the coffee part of the idea appealed to them. “We liked that coffee roasting is part art, part science, in the way baking is,” Liza explained, “but we felt that, with coffee, we would have a greater connection to farmers across the globe. We were also attracted to the connection and community building that naturally happens when people gather around good coffee to consume it.”
So the plan changed. Matt got a degree in sustainable food businesses from UMass, Amherst, and then studied coffee roasting at Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea’s coffee roasting school.
Initially, the couple planned to sell only wholesale, but the production space they rented, a small building hidden behind an old mill on the Mill River, changed their plans again. Liza remembers, “The building lent itself perfectly to having a little coffee shop as well, so we happily embraced that, were adopted by the neighborhood, and business took off.”
Liza and Matt were married the year before they opened YUP Coffee Roasters. It was on their honeymoon in Bali that they first visited a coffee farm. Maybe that’s why one of their favorite coffee offerings is from Bali, named Bali Blue Moon by the farmers that grow it. “Sipping it is like getting a mouthful of milk chocolate. It has a wonderful taste, and a smooth, medium body that’s not too intense,” Liza says.
Bali Blue Moon is the kind of coffee that Tangle uses for infusing our chocolate slivers with its smooth, chocolatey-coffee goodness. But Liza and Matt selected a different coffee bean to pair with the resulting chocolate for drinking: a Peruvian variety named Las Damas de San Ignacio—The Women of San Ignacio—after the group of women farmers who grow the coffee. This dark-roasted coffee has notes of dark chocolate, honey and orange. It stands up well next to, without dominating, Tangle’s Guatemalan Cahabon chocolate with its fruity, slightly nutty notes. We at Tangle, along with Liza and Matt, also like that both the Peruvian coffee cooperative and the Guatemalan cacao cooperative make great efforts to support women farmers. The Peruvian women have not only created a new brand and flavor profiles for their coffee, but are also growing their expertise in other forms of business, including giving loans to help yet more women pursue their dreams.
The adorable YUP cafe with its background music supplied by the Mill River has opted to remain closed since the onset of the COVID pandemic, but the business has still grown, thanks to local support. Liza and Matt pivoted to increase online sales of their coffee, expand wholesale outlets, and offer weekly pick-up from the roastery. Liza says, “We feel lucky to live in an area where people value local products and the positive impact local businesses can provide.”
This article would not be complete without revealing how YUP Coffee Roasters got its unique name. Liza tells the story: “Our friend Nan Parati, the former owner of Elmer's restaurant in Ashfield and longtime Art Director for the New Orleans Jazz Festival, knew we were looking for a name for our coffee business. She had a dream she was serving a table of farmers at her restaurant, asking them if they wanted coffee, and each one answered in turn, ‘Yup!’ She says she woke up and thought, ‘That's it!’ At first we weren't sure about the name, but it grew on us—it was friendly, catchy, and regional, and it stuck.”