Find them online and buy their coffee at depotstreetcoffee.com!
|Blake and Haylee Rogers roast behind their gym, Relentless Fitness, in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. The building has a somewhat out-of-place chimney structure, which Blake and Haylee aimed to tear down until they installed their roaster there and found they could vent through it: a good metaphor for how roasting has puzzled into their lives.|
Setting the Scene
When Blake experienced specialty coffee for the first time, he told everyone. First, his wife Haylee, then, his uncle Mitch Olive, whom he went to visit in 2017. When he visited, he brought along a bag of specialty coffee. For Mitch, like Blake, this was the first good coffee he’d ever experienced.
The next time Blake visited, it was 2019, and Mitch expressed his interest in starting his own roastery. “I said, let’s do it,” Blake says. Neither of them were sure where exactly to start. On a whim, Mitch announced he was going north to Minneapolis to attend Mill City Roasters’ Roasting 101 class; he invited Blake to come along.
By the end of the trip, Mitch had bought his roaster, a 6 kilogram Mill City Roaster. They returned to Arizona; Blake helped him get the roaster set up, and then went home to Tennessee. The roastery that Mitch founded, 07 Coffee Company, found its footing in medium-dark roasts, with nutty and chocolatey tasting notes.
Watching Mitch start 07 Coffee Company, Haylee and Blake realized they also wanted to try their hand at roasting, even if it was just for themselves. By 2021, they were ready to start their own roasting company. Blake and Haylee invested in a 2 kilogram digital and they founded Depot Street Coffee.
The Way Up
To start, they prepared for immediate success by purchasing three 70-kilogram bags of coffee. The reality was unexpectedly slower than anticipated. They found themselves passing out free coffee to generate interest and learn what their customers wanted.
What their customers wanted was also not what they expected.
Lawrenceburg, although the county seat of Lawrence County with a population of 30000, is a small town. Specialty coffee culture was not the norm, and Depot Street found that they would need to reintroduce their customers to coffee in the form of light and medium-roasted coffee.
The pivot was mentally and emotionally challenging, but they adapted and over time they settled into the roasting routine. Blake remembered the first months of their company Relentless Fitness eight years ago. “You don’t make money in the beginning,” he says. “You forget that so easily.”
As Depot Street Coffee got more seasoned, orders ramp up. They landed three accounts with local cafes, providing much needed consistent revenue.
In 2022, Depot Street Coffee took over the roasting of Mitch Olive’s 07 Coffee Company. Because of increasing costs in Arizona–from rent to products to labor–both Mitch and Blake agreed that “it was perfect timing for the situation.” The 07 Coffee Company products shifted onto the Depot Street Coffee website, and Blake inherited both a new palette of roasts and their loyal customers.
As the head roaster for Depot Street Coffee as well as 07 Coffee Company, Blake roasts two or three days a week. Haylee focuses on marketing, social media, and other roastery tasks like packaging and shipping.
Because the Rogers have to portion their time between Depot Street, Relentless Fitness, and taking care of their three children, the days can easily feel overpacked. The roasting routine that best fits their schedule is one where Blake roasts alone. “I hate wasting,” he says: it’s important to him that the greens, with a life cycle dependent on a significant amount of labor, don’t end up spent. When he’s alone, he can focus.
When the roasting is done, Haylee will start her segment of the coffee relay: everything that happens after roasting. While the bagging and shipping have to happen in-person, the rest of her work can be done from anywhere–and it often is. The roasting happens twice or thrice a week, “but advertising is seven days a week,” Haylee says, whether that’s stopping by stores and offering samples or drafting new social media campaigns.
The Depot Street Coffee Menu
Depot Street Coffee has six core products on their menu, including a decaf. They rotate other products seasonally, like their cold brew blend, which is darker than their other roasts, making it less particular on gas and air than the other Depot Street Coffee roasts.
Their bestseller, the Commuter, is a blend between their Guatemala, Mexico, and a rotating single origin. The initial plan was an unchanging recipe, but when their original single origin was unavailable, they decided to flow with harvest schedules and rotate it out every few months, selecting the new coffee for similar flavor profiles. Right now, the single origin is a Papua New Guinea.
All of Depot Street Coffee’s roasts lean towards the fruity and floral side of the flavor wheel.
They also roast 07 Coffee Company coffee, a menu of three products. Mitch’s roasts highlight more traditional chocolatey and nutty tasting notes, so filling those orders keeps Blake well-rounded as a roaster.
As Depot Street Coffee Roasters grows, Blake is looking to open new revenue streams with other businesses in the area such as apartment complexes, who might use his roasts as move-in gifts. He has also gotten the gears turning on a coffee cart, with which he hopes the company will be able to attend events and pop-up markets. “Anything that gets our product in their hand,” he says.
In the long future, both Blake and Haylee would love to take an origin trip and shake hands with the farmers who’ve cultivated their coffee.
Ultimately, Depot Street Coffee will have a permanent home in a Lawrenceburg cafe, which Blake and Haylee hope to manage in tandem with Relentless Fitness.
Bring Depot Street Coffee Home
You can order Depot Street Coffee at United Coffee Company or at a cafe inside of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in Lawrenceburg, or inside of the Family Worship Center Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. If you’re not in the area, you can order single bags or subscriptions of both Depot Street Coffee and 07 Coffee Company from their website. Otherwise, you can follow them on Instagram or Facebook.