Fresh business: Wilkinson's offers fresh-roasted coffee beans

Published 9:29 pm Wednesday, June 25, 2008

By Staff
Among the first questions that may come to mind when you hear about the new business on Jay Road are why - and why here?
Wilkinson's of Norwich, a specialty coffee and tea supplier has expanded from Norwich, England, to the Brewton area. The company is owned by Rick and Debbie Harris and operated by Patsy Harris Lato and Johnny Harris.
They loved it so much that they decided to bring a part of it to Brewton, which has been the home of generations of their family. Wilkinson's is located on family property on Jay Road. Johnny is the roaster and Patsy looks after the business and is getting the word out about their coffee.
Last October Lato and Harris started work on the new building for their business, which is just getting under way. A master roaster from England came to teach Patsy and Johnny how to blend coffees to make original flavors.
Coffee beans are shipped to the business from Kenya, the island of Sumatra and several South and Central American countries such as Columbia, Brazil and Costa Rica.
The beans have been picked and dried in the sun until they burst from their outer shells, which Lato calls cherries. In fact, they do look a lot like cherries when they are still on the trees.
The beans are shipped to Wilkinson's while they are green and ready to be put into the roaster. Harris loads the beans into the roaster, which soon emits the tell-tale whiff of roasted coffee beans.
When Harris checks and makes sure the beans are just like he wants, Harris takes them out and stores them in containers. He is very careful not to roast more than he can handle at one time because the beans must be kept fresh.
After he has the coffees that he wants for the blends, Harris begins to blend them together to get the finished product. He has several scoops with varied sizes and, as one might suppose, the exact measurements of the coffees are secret.
When the different coffees are blended, they are measured into bags. Some are put into a coffee grinder, but Lato said it is best to leave them as whole beans if possible to save the flavor.
Next the beans go into the labeled bags, which have a freshness vent to keep them as fresh as possible.
The next step is to get the coffee to the public.
Lato said the way coffee is brewed makes all the difference in the way the coffee tastes.
So far Wilkinson's has three blended coffees, Brewton Brew, Jean's Java and Blue Mountain Blend. Coffees are also arriving from Colombia, Brazil, Sumatra, Kenya and Costa Rica, and they have a Verona Espresso blend.
So, if you want a good cup of coffee that is as freshly ground as possible, go to or check with local specialty businesses.