On Common Ground
by Jo Snyder
“Coffee really brings people together,” says Dan Gould of Uncommon Grounds. I was fortunate enough to speak with him in August about the history and passion of his specialty roastery.
Dan has worked in coffee since 2001, when he owned a coffee shop in Neenah. Roasting was always more his speed, so after a few years at his cafe, he decided to move on and has been roasting his own coffee since 2013. Uncommon Grounds roasted coffees first hit retail shelves at a local Festival Foods.
Dan is happy to say that you can now find his coffee in over a dozen locations, from New London to Egg Harbor! His roastery is in Appleton, but Dan is “all about the source,” he says. “Coffees from different regions have such distinct flavors.” He hopes that’s reflected in each of his roasts.
When I asked Dan what his favorite aspect of roasting was, he couldn’t decide. When roasting, Dan says he especially enjoys the sensory aspect and really focuses on the subtle flavor nuances.
“I try to highlight each coffee’s unique characteristic,” he explained. After all, a coffee from Ethiopia is not the same as a coffee from Central America, and he tries to let each part of the world have their say in his coffees.
There are many differences between working in a roastery and working in a cafe, but Dan says one of the main things he misses about coffee shop work is the day-to-day interaction with customers. Roasting is where his heart is, but he did enjoy the social aspect of owning his own cafe.
One of his biggest concerns in roasting is where his coffee comes from. Dan orders his green (un-roasted) coffee beans from an importer that focuses on sustainably grown coffees. He says he was able to go to Colombia in 2017 with his importer and he hopes to see more coffee farms in the future.
I asked Dan about the inspiration for his roastery, and he said he feels the name Uncommon Grounds is sort of a double-entendre. “I try to be uncommon with my roasting practices, but coffee is also a common ground for so many of us.”
He says his best seller is his Harmony Roast, and he chose that name because coffee can bring harmony into our lives. Dan can’t decide if he has a favorite of his own. “I like to try a new coffee every week. I like to taste variations on the same beans, and it’s just so hard to choose one I like best.”
If you haven’t given Uncommon Grounds a try, check out their retail locations. Visit uncommongroundsspecialtyroaster.com