At KAHA Coffee Roasters, our mission is to make great coffee available to everyone and to welcome coffee lovers, and the non-initiated, to the world of specialty coffee. We’re here to help people along in their coffee journey while enjoying, appreciating, and learning more about coffee.
We’ll start with who we are not… we’re not hip, we’re not trendy (at least we don’t think we are), and we’re not here to make anyone feel intimidated or out of place when talking about coffee. We’re not snobby, and we definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously!
Who we ARE is a group of people who are passionate about all things coffee, down to earth, family oriented, enjoy the simple pleasures in life, and who try to get the most out of life by living, laughing, loving, and of course… drinking coffee!
We are a small business based in Amesbury, Massachusetts, specializing in hand crafted, small batch, specialty coffee roasting with a focus on high quality coffees sourced from around the world. If you are unfamiliar with the term Specialty Coffee, it is best summed up as coffee that has been grown, handled, processed, sourced, and roasted with attention to detail to bring out the best of what coffee has to offer, as opposed to the mass-produced coffees typically found at grocery stores which are also referred to in the coffee industry as “commodity coffees.” Commodity coffees are typically over-roasted, have a strong bitterness, and are sold at very low prices.
Tyler Workman, KAHA Coffee Roasters Founder
KAHA Coffee Roasters imports high quality green coffee beans from around the world, each with unique characteristics and we note their flavors, acidity, body, density, etc. then we search for beans that perfectly complement each other and blend them together to create a coffee with the best characteristics from every bean, resulting in a balanced and delicious coffee. Our core blends exemplify this by offering a broad variety of flavor profiles and characteristics.
We also import and roast more specialized coffees referred to as Single Origin, Microlot, and Single Estate coffees where the coffee comes from one particular region, one particular farm or estate, or are a part of one particular lot of coffee (within an estate, washing station, processing station, etc.). These coffees are usually regarded as super premium quality coffees due to the exceptional attention to detail in growing, sorting, processing and for their unique characteristics. Our single origin offerings rotate throughout the year according to seasonality.
Coffee Estate/Farm Burundi, Africa
Our imported coffee beans come protected in GrainPro hermetic solutions to protect the integrity, and freshness of the coffee protecting it from mold and mycotoxins which are present in much of the mass-produced commodity coffee on the market.
When it comes to talking coffee, we strive to offer recommendations, tools, and best practices to improve your coffee experience and to help people appreciate all that coffee has to offer.
- Direct to Door – We roast fresh and ship to your doorstep via our web store at KAHACOFFEE.COM
- Wholesale – We sell wholesale to Coffee Shops, Cafes, Restaurants, specialty shops, and farm stands
- Toll Roasting – We offer custom roasting for both private label and white label services
For each coffee variety and origin, we approach the roasting process with intentionality and a singular goal: how can we unlock the full potential of this bean? Through testing and tasting, we fine tune our roast profiles to unlock the full potential out of a particular bean instead of chasing a certain roast level.
Our philosophy is that great coffee should be accessible to everyone without being snobby, intimidating, or off-putting. We believe that coffee is extremely subjective and we encourage people to experiment with different coffees, roast levels, brew methods, grind sizes, and water temperatures to find what you like best.
It is also our philosophy to be continually improving, if we come across a bean that we think improves one of our core blends, we will test it and taste it to see if we can improve.
An aspect of our brand that we work hard to maintain is to make our specialty coffee approachable and accessible in that we go to great lengths to not alienate coffee drinkers who may think specialty coffee is too "snooty" "high class" or "out of reach" for people who would like to take step past the world of mass-produced commodity coffee. We have helped many coffee drinkers find what flavors and characteristics they prefer, and have helped coffee drinkers along their journey with recommendations on gear, brewing techniques, cleaning best practices, etc. We hope to offer information, impart the knowledge that we’ve gained, engage in conversation with our customers, keep learning, keep up with industry trends, new techniques, and share our love and passion for coffee with everyone!
Checking coffee from the tryer to track progress
Hi, I’m Tyler Workman, founder of KAHA Coffee Roasters! My coffee journey first began back when I was about 10 years old living in New Zealand. My first memory of coffee was when visiting my Auntie and Uncle and during breakfast they served instant coffee. I remember being fascinated that the drink was made from a powder. I was also intrigued by the smell, and every time I would visit I would smell the instant coffee. I can’t say that I particularly liked the coffee at that age, but that was what I drank when I had breakfast at my Auntie and Uncle’s house. My parents were tea drinkers, so we didn’t have coffee in the house, but I would have it every time when visiting my Auntie and Uncle.
During my early teenage years around age 13, I had my first Flat White (an Espresso based drink consisting of a short or concentrated espresso shot with a thin or “flat” layer of steamed/foamed milk on top) at a Café, and I was in love!!! Back in New Zealand everything was an espresso based drink at that time, as we didn’t really have a variety of coffee shops and we didn’t have a broad range of filter coffee.
During my late teenage years, around 18 or 19, when I started working my first jobs, Flat Whites became sort of an obsession for me and I would get excited just thinking about the next time I would have one because it was so enjoyable. Whenever I had a Flat White I would feel this sense of joy and peace, it was something I truly enjoyed and appreciated. Around this time I was drinking about four Flat Whites a day spread out throughout the day. A lot of the money I made at my first jobs was spent on Flat Whites!
I started to branch out and try Flat Whites from different cafes and noticed that some tasted better than others, which got me thinking “Why is it that some taste much better than others?” That question really made me think, and really stuck with me.
Fast forward to meeting who would become my future wife, and who is American, we decided to move to the U.S. to settle down and start our life together. At this time I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do as a career, to find what my passion was, and to re-invent myself here in the U.S. Well, that didn’t come to me very quickly! As I tried to figure things out, I went about trying to find the same type of Flat White in the Amesbury/Newburyport area that I loved so much in New Zealand. At that time there weren’t as many shops around, so I couldn’t find the same taste I had in New Zealand. It was at this time that I decided to experiment roasting my own coffee.
I had researched buying and roasting coffee and read that you could roast coffee in a popcorn popping machine, so that was my very first “coffee roaster.” I can remember diving deep into research just to recreate the taste of the Flat Whites I had back home in New Zealand. As I didn’t have an espresso machine, I couldn’t re-create a Flat White exactly. The only type of home brewing method I remembered from New Zealand was a French Press, so I went out and purchased one to start testing my roasted coffee.
The first coffee I ever roasted was an Ethiopian coffee, and as some people know, espresso tastes very different from filter or brewed coffee, so the first time I brewed my Ethiopian coffee in a French Press, I was stunned! I can remember the way my wife looked at me “having a moment” as we now call it. I was just so shocked and confused at the varieties of flavors I was tasting. It was such a broad range of flavors and I was just so intrigued.
As I started branching out to more regions from Africa, I began going further down the rabbit hole and becoming more and more passionate about coffee the more I learned and researched. After a few months I started branching out to coffees from Central and South America which are really well known for their balanced cup profiles, and again I was stunned at the variety of flavors that I was getting! The first time I bought a natural processed green coffee bean from Central America I couldn’t believe how fruity it tasted. This is when I truly fell in love with all coffee varieties and all brewing methods. I was like a mad scientist and I went out and bought every coffee brewing method I could from Chemex to the Hario V60 to the Kalita Wave and I was experimenting with every type of roast level and roast profile. This is when I also became obsessed with trying to find the best flavors and blending coffees to get a truly unique cup. My goal was to make each coffee or blend taste the best it could possibly taste. I had become so entrenched in coffee that I knew I had to explore a career in coffee and that this could be my passion and my career.
After having had the “aha” moment that this could be a career, I started to research real coffee roasters and started to ask “Is there a market here for this?” I also started to think “How will I even sell this, and will people actually pay me for my coffee?” So I saved up what I could, and through the support of friends and family, was able to purchase a small batch coffee roaster. I can’t stress this enough, if not for the help of our friends and family KAHA Coffee Roasters would not exist, so I’m extremely grateful to them for bringing this to life.
Installation of the coffee roaster
Once the roaster was purchased, I began sourcing coffee, roasting, and perfecting my roast profiles. I built a little coffee cart with a steel frame and reclaimed timber to make it look nice and started by doing pop-ups serving pour over coffee and cold brew (both regular and Nitro) and selling 12 oz bags of my roasted coffee beans. When I look back on that first year it’s a little funny, my wife and I were doing so many pop-ups at so many types of venues and events like farmers markets, hair salons, birthdays, open studios, pretty much any kind of event you can think of!
Building a pop-up cart from a steel frame and wood
From the time I began roasting in a popcorn popper to the time I purchased a roaster and formed an actual business was about three years. As the pop-up business started to grow, I was getting more and more interest from wholesale accounts and there was more demand from every part of the business including brewed coffee and roasted coffee beans. It was a little overwhelming because I knew that if I was going to be able to handle the demand that I would need to invest substantially in new gear for the pop-ups, get a real espresso machine, get a trailer to haul the coffee cart, new kegerators for the cold brew, and so on and so on. That’s when I made the decision to switch from pop-up events to a focus on roasting, toll roasting, wholesale accounts, and the direct to customer channel online at KAHACOFFEE.com.
I asked my Mom what I should name the coffee business I was about to start and how I could honor my roots in New Zealand. Almost immediately she said “Why not call it Kia Kaha?”
Kia Kaha is a Māori phrase used by the people of New Zealand as an affirmation, roughly translating to “Stay Strong”. This phrase has significant meaning for the Māori people of New Zealand and the phrase “Ake Ake Kia Kaha E!” (Upwards, upwards, be strong!) was used by the 28th Māori Battalion of New Zealand during World War II.
Members of the 28th Māori Battalion performing a haka, Egypt (July 1941)
Photo Attribution: Unidentified New Zealand official photographer;
Restoration by Adam Cuerden, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
After thinking about it, I felt the word “Kaha” or “strength” on its own retained the message of strength, having a strong brand, a strong product, and embodied the strength needed to start a small business. This is how KAHA Coffee Roasters came to be!