Commercial Coffee Roaster News, Customer Stories, Roaster News
Put Good In: Todd and Mary Jo Satterfield and 129 Coffee Roasters
The Satterfields live in Coats, North Carolina; they are two in a town of seven thousand. Each weekday morning, they wake up and drive to Dunn, the home of their 8-5 office jobs as insurance agents for Allstate. The job lets them help people: something they’re good at, and something they’ve dedicated their lives to.
They’re a team, best friends and spouses that have worked together for over six years. Not a day goes by that Todd and Mary Jo don’t work on something in tandem.
When the business day is done, they come back to Coats and fire up their roaster. Which they do on weekends, too. And holidays. Nearly every night, they weigh, roast, and package their small-batch coffee to serve their community, which has grown far past the boundaries of Harnett County and become national. At the heart of their business is an instinct to help.
When Todd rolls up his sleeves to roast, you can catch a glimpse of his tattoo. A coffee plant, a percolator, a cup stamped with “φιλοξενία,” the Greek word for hospitality.
“My wife and I are big on hospitality,” he says. “Love one stranger, love to strangers.”
Their love of hospitality, coupled with an intrigue about the process of roasting, is what brought them to this industry. And it was third-wave coffee culture that swept them up and sealed the deal. Not only did they want to roast coffee and serve their customers high-quality blends, but they also wanted to reach up the supply chain and help their farmers, too. The intrinsic focus in third-wave culture on sustainability, quality, and direct trade gave Todd and Mary Jo an avenue to build a company dedicated to people.
Initially, a tiny electric roaster did all the work. But the results were less than ideal, and the coffee wasn’t good. So they moved up, investing in a small 1.5lb gas drum roaster in 2020 and fine-tuning the process until the effect was quality, unique coffee. They started out by giving the blends away, to neighbors and friends and colleagues.
“They just latched on to us,” Todd says. Soon, the 1.5lb roaster couldn’t keep up—and some of their customers began insisting on buying what used to be gifted. The business started to take shape, and it formed itself around Mill City Roaster’s 6k Gas Coffee Roaster.
The story of the 6k roaster is also a story of community and love. The plan was to find a used 3k roaster—Todd had one in mind—to continue scaling the roasting business. When that fell through, the dream pulled back out of reach. Their current roaster wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with demand; the Satterfields were swimming in orders. But to commit to a new roaster would mean making a significant investment in their hobby, one that felt huge.
The unstoppable coffee force met the immovable price tag of a high-volume roaster. Things could have ended there—but they didn’t.
Coats is a small town, where everyone knows each other’s business and where problems, if they can be solved by a little bit of love and a little bit of belief, don’t stay problems for long. Everyone who’d tasted the Satterfield’s coffee believed in it—and so one of those believers stepped forward, and fronted the money for a roaster. Not a 3k, but a 6k. Not used, but brand-new.
The cogs started turning again.
With a machine capable of roasting over four hundred pounds per day, the business took off. They landed a deal with the local coffee shop, Inspirational Grounds, and became their first supplier. Their work filled a void in Coats; before them, there were no specialty coffee roasters within county lines. As the only roastery, they became the go-to for locals as well as for customers looking to buy wholesale online.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, when local sales plummeted enough to storeowners to turn off their open lights, they’ve kept afloat and even seen a bump in purchases made remotely.
“We do it because we love coffee and love people,” Todd says. Every night he spends in their roastery is another night he gets to spend doing what he loves. In a space dedicated solely to coffee, Todd finds stress-relief for himself and nourishment for his community. As we all know, the process is a labor of love—and the result is a direct reflection of what you put in.
And what the Satterfields put in is a sustainable, people-focused practice. 129 Coffee Roasters has a clear mission: to nourish the palette, soul, and community. Even the number 129 stems from this effort: the company is named after Genesis 1:29:
“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’”
Now, every time they stick a label on a blend, they’re reminded of their purpose when it comes to seed-bearing fruit.
To nourish the palette, Todd ensures that every new sample of bean is taste-tested before a blend is made. That way, he can ensure that every flavor profile is harmonious and wholesome. He seeks out the individuality in each grain so that he and Mary Jo can roast them to perfection.
And because the beans are most often direct trade, he can take care of his supply chain by paying farmers directly for their product. “If we don’t keep coffee farmers in business, we’re not going to have coffee,” he says. Responsible sourcing means 129 Coffee Roasters builds relationships with their farmers. If you want an example, all you have to do is visit the landing page of their website. Through their partnership with Santa Marta Farm—the first home of their Guatemalan beans—the farm’s non-profit, Papa-Moms, can support local youth in need of health care. Nourishment, from the farm to the percolator.
Even when they’re not working, Todd goes in to the roastery to prepare for their next wave of orders. Both he and Mary Jo are gearing up for 129 Coffee Roasters next move—opening a brick and mortar café and roastery where they can expand their hospitality and welcome others into a dedicated coffee space. Simply put, they want to build a café so they can see familiar faces all day long.
That might mean moving from Coats in search of a more suitable commercial space. It might mean braving the housing market too, which is not currently a place for the faint of heart. He’s hopeful, though; if you ask him about it, he’ll tell you all their plans, and he’ll name every experience that’s come his way—or might come his way—for what it is: a blessing.
“Sometimes God lets you know you’re doing the right thing,” he says. Their faith in the pillars of 129 Coffee Roasters—Jesus and hospitality—have brought them a long ways up from the small-fry electric roaster.
Thirty years after their first blind date, Todd and Mary Jo still get excited to spend their days together. Whether it’s an eight hour day helping people via insurance or an eight hour night helping people via coffee—or both—they’re always ready to face it. “We hop in together and get it done,” he says.
Look out for news of their roastery as it continues to be dreamed and planned into existence. For right now, you can find their coffee in action at Inspiration Grounds, or online on their website. Otherwise, keep up with them on Instagram and Facebook.
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