Nestled quietly amongst the pines in the small New England town of Bedford is New Hampshire’s best kept specialty coffee secret, the Flight Coffee Roasting Lab & Tasting room. Their initial opening was announced to the coffee world in 2016 through Daily Coffee News.



I’m a native New Englander and no stranger to Flight’s initial takeoff and landing. I’ve been tasting their coffee and watching their progress from Brazil and now China for some time. I wanted to check in again and buy some beans before I headed home. Flight is my personal favorite in New Hampshire and currently one of the two roasters that (IMHO) reign as the state’s coffee roasting authority.

New England is the proud home of Dunkin’ Donuts. They also host several second wave coffee chains. In the past few years we have seen the growth of the third wave in Boston and Maine’s costal towns among other hot spots in the region.

New England has been a late bloomer in the third wave movement. While adaption here is slow, one thing’s for sure, Flight Coffee has piqued the curiosity of the White Mountain folk. New Hampshirites have trekked in from afar to frequent Flight for some of the WORLD’s finest single origin coffees. It’s like a magic door—predestined and have tasted speciality coffee, there’s no turning back.



As I taxied down the never-ending curve of Harvey Road, I finally arrived at the conspicuous entrance. The sight of the little white sign with Flight’s spacey rocket logo signaled me in. I turned off the annoying repetitions of google maps and hovered in for a parking space.  I think of Flight as the SpaceX of New Hampshire’s coffee scene, not only for their design theme but, “going where no man has gone before.”


I found my way to the front door and was greeted by three guys working away on their laptops in the front of the lab. I asked if they had a cup of coffee to spare. And once they got a good “New England” look at me, the brewing began. They allowed me to choose from one of their many mouth watering micro-lots.



I opted for the Brazilian coffee because I recognized the origin, the Daterra Estate farm. I know this farm very well from my years working in Brazil. They had roasted it to perfection, revealing the typical sweet Brazilian chocolatey notes with a slight acidity as it cooled in the cup.


The level of our conversation the next few minutes typified most coffee geek encounters. We quickly discussed China’s up and coming coffee farmers and specialty culture. We name dropped the roasting styles of Norway’s Tim Windelboe and the infamous Scott Rao. And what about Rob Hoos? Where was he? Was the best roast development time 20%? 10%? 5%?

We all came to a quick consensus which is rare for a group of coffee geeks. We even discussed the unique psychology of both Brazil and China’s consumers. They gave back a little of the New England habits in comparison.  After we made several rotations around the earth’s outer atmosphere the moment came to a climax (I wondered if I was taking too much of their time) when there was an unspoken feeling that we were all on the cutting edge of the exploration of the coffee market. At least I thought we were. And that’s what’s so cool about specialty coffee. We’re mostly just a little big family of micro-roasters influencing the huge universe of the global coffee chain.


Flight’s roasting team has some depth and wisdom in their experience. The lab was well equipped with the latest books on all things coffee. Out of the corner of my eye I spied a Le Nuz du Cafe aroma kit from France and a Refractometer, two important tools at home in any specialty roaster.  Flights founder, Claudia Barrett, is a certified Q-Grader and has done a wonderful job building coffee culture in New Hampshire.



Ah, I almost forgot.  While one of the baristas brewed my coffee on a Hario V60 another newer apprentice piped up from his laptop and asked me a very good question.  He had recently written a research paper on Brazilian coffee farms. He studied where climate change could be affecting the market.  We had a very mature conversation about what the small farmer could do and where one could help inspire change both inside and outside of the current government programs. As we talked my mind drifted back to many friends who are farmers in Brazil. He later sent me some of his interesting research and hopes to write more about this in the near future.

As we talked I felt like I could be highjacking their busy Monday afternoon, I gulped down my coffee. I then asked if I could quickly tour the rest of the lab. They gladly showed me to the control room of Flight, the green coffee and roaster room.


Flight prepares for it’s lift off on two world class roasters.  A USA made Diedrich IR-5 designed by Steve Diedrich (Boing engineer on the west coast) and the faithful German Probate Probatone 12. Driving either one of these roasters is a luxury for most small batch specialty startups.  We talked about air flow on each machine. How it does or doesn’t affect the overall dialing in of those complex chemical reactions that compose coffee flavor.

When I visit a coffee shop or roasting lab, I’m always looking for the face and presence of the farmers in their product and business concept.  At a first glance, the new consumer will notice origins like Panama, Indonesia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Brazil, Colombia, etc. and that can be pretty exotic at first. Besides origin, customers learning the importance of roasting method, altitude, varietal, and type of processing takes them even further into their cups. But who produced their coffee is a question of utter importance for our clients. Without coffee farmers, this whole market wouldn’t even exist. These guys deserve much more credit than they currently receive. If customers like the look of jute coffee bags pasted on the wall as art they would be totally floored to see and hear about the human beings who really make it all happen year after year in coffee.



Flight purchases their coffees from middle man importers like most roasters in the USA. This makes it a little challenging to know farmers up close and personal, let alone bring that fresh experience to the urban table. Few companies have the resources to send staff to distant lands to hunt down the best coffees before other buyers get their spoons on them.  Flight wisely sources all their coffee from some of the worlds finest specialty importers who not only discover the best farmers and coffees but are also concerned about justice and transparency.


The head roaster mentioned how amazing it would be to purchase direct from farmers one day. There are so many risks in such a relationship for a small batch roaster located so far from coffee origin.  But it’s a dream in the not so distant future for Flight. Farm direct relationships can add so much more value to the business cycle as they provide the ingredients to stage transformational seed to cup experiences for their clients.

After I snapped a selfie with the some of the Flight team I saw that they still had a lot of work to do.  As I made my way out the front door and said thank you for their time I had to at least buy some coffee.



I’m sneaking three of their amazing beans in my suitcase back to China:

The Ethiopia Yirgacheffe is a washed Heirloom varietal with watermelon, jackfruit and hibiscus notes.

Honduras washed Caturra/Catuai with dark chocolate and blackberry notes.

And last but not least, their Tanzanian washed Bourbon with graham cracker sweetness and key lime finish.



These light roasted coffees will excite any saliva glands with third wave goodness.

If you feel like you’re being called to visit Flight’s lab or coffee shop, you won’t regret it!  In Dover, NH you will find their 2,500-square-foot flagship retail coffee shop. Make sure you check their address and hours online.

    (603) 842-5325
    478 Central Ave
    Dover, NH 03820
    (603) 836-6228
    30 Harvey Rd
    Bedford, NH 03110