By John Lynds
The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s Farmers Market featured two new faces this season.
Jeremy Schleibaum and Kyle Fletcher have been at the weekly farmers market promoting the coffee company they recently launched, the Eagle Hill Coffee Company.
Each Wednesday afternoon the duo hand out samples of their locally roasted Colombian and Ethiopian coffee and sell bags of the organic beans by the pound.
Schleibaum, an East Boston resident, and Fletcher, who lives in Brighton, met during their college years when Schleibaum attended Northeastern University with Fletcher’s sister, Andrea.
“I grew up in Washington DC and Kyle (Fletcher) was from Chelmsford,” said Schleibaum. “We met when I began dating Andrea, who is now my wife, at Northeastern.”
After college the Schleibaums lived in Arizona for a bit where Schleibaum says he was exposed to numerous independent coffee companies and roasters.
“Andrea and I moved out to Arizona shortly after we got married,” said Schleibaum. “There’s a lot of third wave coffee companies out there. It’s not just your typical Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts but actual speciality local roasters.”
When Schleibaum moved back to the East Coast, he and his wife settled on Trenton Street. Schleibaum and Fletcher began roasting their own coffee beans in Schleibaum’s kitchen.
“It was really just a hobby in my kitchen,” said Schleibaum, who works full-time as a physician’s assistant. “But my time in Arizona really inspired me to produce higher quality coffee and put more time into it.”
Schleibaum and Fletcher, who works at a coffee company near Fenway, began using Fletcher’s coffee roaster at work to begin producing the first bags of Eagle Hill Coffee Company coffee.
“With my boss’s blessing we are able to use the space at my work after-hours to roast and package our coffee,” said Fletcher. “Right now we are using Dean’s Beans but eventually our plan is to grow this company and make connections oversees with local farmers in Ethiopia, Colombia and Kenya. What got me excited about this plan, beyond the fact I love coffee, was the possibility of making those connections. There a potential to use this business in other con tries to invest in communities.”
Fletcher explained that a lot of times in the coffee industry the coffee farmer is exploited.
“I mean they get a pretty raw deal when you look at the mark up on coffee,” he said. “We want to create an opportunity where we can compensate farmers fairly and partner with farmers that want to invest in their own community. Basically we are creating an organization that reflects our belief in helping people.”
As far as planting the companies flag in Eastie, Schleibaum said it was a no brainer.
“Since moving here I’ve felt super welcomed by the community,” he said. “I’m trying to get Kyle over to Eastie. But we are both just loving this community and the opportunity to be at the Farmers Market and make real connections with people. We really wanted the name of the company to reflect the community we love.”
Both Schleibaum and Fletcher both said the three hours they spend each week at the farmers market is more rewarding than the 40 hours they spend at their other jobs.
“We love our jobs but I feel I have made more authentic connections with people doing this side job each week,” said Schleibaum.