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New Medford shop perks interest

Posted by Alix Roy  May 13, 2010 10:04 AM

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Mystic Coffee Roaster is open for business on Riverside Ave. in Medford Square.

A new coffee shop has opened up in Medford, and it's not a Dunkin' Donuts.

Mystic Coffee Roaster, an independent specialty cafe on Riverside Avenue, has local java enthusiasts  buzzing with its unique blends made from freshly roasted beans. Since opening in April, the shop has earned rave reviews from customers looking for more than just a daily dose of caffeine.

“It seems like every other person that comes in the door says 'Thank God you're here,' ” said owner Sharon Hepburn, a former software engineer for Fidelity Investments.

Hepburn has been roasting her own coffee beans for years in her Medford kitchen and was in the process of doing just that when the idea of starting her own cafe occurred to her. After making the initial decision, many of the details fell into place.

“I definitely wanted to open in Medford,” she said. “I wanted to support the community and open a place that I would want to go to.”

Hepburn now uses a custom-made 5-kilogram roaster to prepare three to four small batches of beans a week, a process she likens to making fine wine. Her four-person staff serves six different blends of organic and fair trade coffee to customers while explaining their origins and unique flavorings. A Bolivian blend has quickly emerged as a house favorite.

“Education really counts for a lot,” Hepburn said. “People are really interested in finding out about the beans and where they come from.”

For local resident Susan Altman, Mystic Coffee Roaster has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood in more ways than one.

Sharon.jpg“I'm thrilled at having an independent choice in Medford Square because it's not Dunkin' Donuts,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I can walk to it, it's pretty, and it brings a bit of new life to the square, which it sorely needs.”

The cafe has also gained a customer in Medford resident Carol Beaulieu, who called Hepburn a few days after the cafe's grand opening to inquire about purchasing whole beans.

“She asked me a few questions about the kind of coffee I like and said if I gave her a couple of days she'd have them ready for me,” Beaulieu said. “Honestly, where can you get this kind of service these days?”

On Sunday, Hepburn said running the cafe has been a rewarding way to meet her neighbors and give back to her community. The cafe has donated coffee to the city's pancake breakfast and plans to get involved in next month's community dinner. Although the long hours have required a little extra caffeination, so far the experience has been well worth it, she said.

“I was a little sick of sitting in a cubicle,” she laughed.

Photos courtesy of The Boston Foodie.

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