If you’ve been in to 1 Prospect any time this fall/winter, you’ve seen the smiling eyes behind the mask that is Angelica Harrison. Running a one-woman operation, Angelica’s business, The Roasted Bean Espresso Bar, has been churning out some of the best espresso drinks this little Village has seen. Earlier this summer she was located next door to Marigold’s Pizza and when they shut down for the winter, we decided to spark up a partnership here, pairing her bean slinging prowess with our affinity for a classic French Patisserie baked good and it’s been a match made in heaven. We sat down for a chat with Angelica so you could get to know the woman behind the caffeine buzz just a tad better.
Pangaea: Where are you from and how did you end up in Bennington?
Angelica Harrison: I’m originally from a small town in Western Massachusetts. After college I ventured out to see the country and find my passion. After years of being away and learning the different ways people love coffee, I came back east to have a baby, be with my family, and share my love for good coffee.
P: What did you want to be when you grew up?
AH: I always wanted to become a child therapist after years of my family taking foster children. I also love to write, becoming an author is still a dream of mine.
P: What kind of things do you write?
AH: I’d always kept a journal up until my late 20s. I love reading and writing real life satire. I guess it goes in the category of comedy. I fell in love with this fiction author named Babe Walker who can be a little crude at times but incredibly funny to me. There’s something magical that happens when an author can write the exact way you think and who can convey an exact situation you’ve been in. I don’t go on it now but I had a Facebook page called The Rotten Grape where I practiced. I paired it with my love for wine and some of it isn’t nearly as funny to me now as it was back then. That’s what makes me laugh when I read it now, but I had fun doing it!
P: How did you come to coffee?
AH: Believe it or not, Starbucks. My first job learning about coffee came from a part time job at a Starbucks in a Target. They took it so seriously with the notes and profiles of coffee. The exactness of a cappuccino foam compared to the exactness of latte foam was inspiring. You had to complete a “coffee passport” where you showed you tasted all that the different roasts had to offer. I loved it! I then followed that love to California where I spent time working for a local roasted in a very tiny coffee kiosk. I took over ownership for a short time before moving to Pittsburgh to manage one of 30 Crazy Mocha Coffee Shop locations. It was then and there I realized I wanted to own my own shop.
P: Do you remember your first ever taste of coffee?
AH: I don’t remember the first time, but I knew I liked it early on except I called it “baby coffee.” Baby Coffee is maybe 4oz of coffee, 16 sugars, and the rest milk. It wasn’t until I was much older I realized what real coffee tasted like and now I like a much stronger cup.
P: What, in your opinion, is the BEST cup of coffee?
AH: Aside from our coveted Mocha Joes, I really like a small double latte at Tunnel City at Mass Moca, incredible pour overs at Iron Coffee in Hoosick Falls, and Tall Cat Coffee Roasters in Dorset for brewing at home.
P: Death before decaf, true or false?
AH: For me, absolutely true.
P: In our line of work, we are commonly pairing wine and food, but we think you can pair all sorts of different things. Do you have any recommendations for coffee and pastry pairings?
AH: Our patisserie is full of items that taste incredible with our espresso. Our whole grain croissants and our Peruvian French Roast would be yummy together. The lemon bar paired with our Hometown Light Roast sounds delicious. I actually can’t wait for the in-depth research portion of this subject matter. [Check back with us for more pairing suggestions soon!]
P: What do you imagine The Roasted Bean looking like in 5 years?
AH: I’d always imagined having many little Roasted Bean Coffee kiosks in either large apartment complexes in a city or in large office buildings. I am kind of forced to reinvent our vision at the moment and I like seeing where we are going. At this point, who knows where we’ll be in 5 years!
P: What’s the best music (a specific song, band, or genre) to go with your first cup of joe in the morning?
AH: I always love reggae in the morning. I’m not sure everyone does, but listening to reggae and having a coffee sounds like a pretty good morning.
P: Do you have a favorite reggae group or song to start you off for a great day?
AH: I have a deep love for music, but if we’re specifically talking reggae, I grew up listening to and still love Bob Marley. I have a love for California Style Reggae and lately a slight obsession with Vermont’s very own Twiddle. Music is always playing in our house but I may have enjoyed a morning or two starting out with a cup of coffee, burning some incense, and singing to “3 Little Birds”.
P: What makes The Roasted Bean so well-suited for our little village of North Bennington?
AH: I love this village because I live in this village. I know the people and we have a little community already built here. Aside from people supporting my business, we have had people support us as friends and as neighbors. From gardening advice from the next-door neighbor, to the Boy Scouts trailer storing our espresso machine for a month during our first move, the love from our community is real. The Roasted Bean wants to be and is proud to be the place this community meets their long-time friend or their first play date. It’s important to us to see coffee bringing people together.
P: How have you been managing with COVID as a small business owner?
AH: I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to work this entire time. It was tough to adjust to the guidelines so quickly but our drive-thru set up [previous to North Bennington, The Roasted Bean was located at a drive-through spot in downtown Bennington] allowed for it with window service and contactless payments. I had my preschooler with me the rest of the 2019/2020 school year, which for her was probably boring not having the usual foot traffic, but I had my hands full keeping her entertained and making coffee through the window. Now things are still going smoothly, we can safely provide to-go and curbside pickup. We also have contact tracing info cards for those who dine in. Things are relatively good given the current times and we are incredibly thankful for the continued support from our loyal community.
P: Anything else you want to share with the community?
AH: Only that you are the reason we can continue to do what we love. We are so lucky to be able to see everyone from our amazing teachers, to our librarians, to our local artists and students. From the upstairs neighbors to the ladies at the salon, the kids on the scooters to the guy who rides his bike 12 miles for coffee, to the folks on their daily walks. All are a part of our community, our adventure, our coffee family, and we are so thankful for all of you!