Coffee lovers lured by antique roaster

June 19, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Each morning Charles Rake fires up an antique roaster in front of his 164 E. Baltimore St. shop and turns out, depending on the day, a heady mix of freshly roasted coffee or freshly roasted peanuts.

The aroma is a real nose-turner.

Rake has owned Greencastle Coffee Roasters for two years. His business comes from repeat customers, browsers and a brisk mail-order operation.

"I have regular customers from all around the area, from Martinsburg, W.Va., to as far away as New York and Philadelphia. A lot of sales people who come through here stop by to stock up on my coffee," Rake said.


Most of the customers for his peanuts are local residents.

His building looks more like a 1950s-era automobile dealership - which is what it started out as - than an upscale coffee and nut shop.

But it works.

The big windows and classic tile floor lend themselves to Rake's display of antique coffee roasters and his piles of burlap bags filled with raw peanuts and unroasted coffee beans.

A large painting of Juan Valdez and his burro, of coffee advertisement fame, grace the side of the building.

Roasting peanuts is anybody's game, Rake said, but coffee roasting is an art.

Rake, 45, said he learned the craft the hard way - by trial and error. He started with an old roaster at a farmers' market in Chantilly, Va.

"I just jumped in and started playing with it. People in Chantilly were my guinea pigs. They drank a lot of bad coffee before I got good at it."

Roasting coffee and blending exotic flavors is Rake's specialty.

"I get a lot of personal satisfaction and pride out of it, especially when people come a long distance to buy my coffee," he said.

Rake's peanut prices are average prices. His coffee goes for from $7 to $17 a pound.

His coffee beans come from Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. South American coffees are milder than those from Africa and the Pacific, which tend to be richer and more full-bodied, he said.

He laces his coffee with enough flavors to tempt any palate. There's rain forest nut, mocha nut cinnamon, Irish cream and French roast, mud slide, macadamia creme, Tiramisu, highlander grogg and Italian dessert. There's also his own Greencastle house blend and others.

He also sells dried fruit and such exotic snacks as wasabi peas from Japan and his own New Mexico fire mix with its "five secret spices."

Rake has lived in Greencastle for eight years. He ran a bookstore downtown and got into the peanut business when the owner of an antique store next door to the bookstore retired. He bought the old peanut roaster the antique dealer had outside his store and began roasting peanuts.

"Before I knew it the peanuts were supporting the bookstore," he said.

He closed the bookstore, kept the peanut roaster, and took it to craft shows. Eventually, he started roasting coffee.

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