When Creating a Stronger Business Plan Brews Up New Coffee Connections

Owen Miller grew up in East Alstead, a small, rural village in Southern New Hampshire that’s big on community. His story then took him around the globe on a remarkable exploration of food and drink. From Grenada, where he supported cacao growers for L.A. Burdick Chocolate, to Scotland, where he honed his brewing skills with BrewDog, and many destinations in between, Owen returned to the States inspired and drawn to his true love, coffee.

He settled in D.C. and lucked out with a job at one of the city’s best cafes, A Baked Joint. Though pulling espresso shots all day long was exhausting, the job allowed him to try coffees from roasters across America. The nuances of each were not lost on him.

When he made his way home to the Granite State in 2019 in need of a break from urban living, he felt ready to give something special back to his community. And that something special has, of course, turned out to be coffee.

A cup of coffee in a white cup and saucer held by Owen.During the pandemic, he leaned into his dream of opening a small batch roasting business, East Alstead Roasting Co. He says his aim is “to provide coffee to people and places I’ve loved.” And his fascination with coffee is contagious. That’s something local vendors quickly picked up on. “The Putney Co-op were early customers. They carry my coffee,” he says.

Fans also find him at the ever-popular Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market, as well as other shops and restaurants around the region. One of the latest is Muse Bistro in Keene, an eclectic downtown bar and lounge that draws exceptional reviews for its creative menu and striking ambiance.

Owen landed several new accounts after being featured in an article by The Keene Sentinel, celebrating his accomplishments as part of the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship’s (HGC) Food Business Lab. “That was cool. That was a lot of press,” he describes.

Spreading awareness about his business has helped broaden his reach in the area. Though there are several coffee roasters unique to the Monadnock Region, Owen notes, “In my eyes, there’s room for my coffee here because I’m focusing on just light roast pretty much and providing a range of single origin coffees. “Delicate, complex, bright, juicy coffees are my jam,” he says.

For him, it’s all in the details. “I’m showcasing varieties of coffee and processing methods and how they lend different flavor profiles to the coffee,” he explains. His knowledge of coffee is impressive, but it was his business plan that felt like it needed a boost when he first sought out HGC.

Owen Miller sipping coffee out of a white mug at local business, MUSE.He’ll tell you from the get-go that he doesn’t consider himself a salesman and isn’t looking to make unbridled growth the focus of his business plan. “I just want to give people a little taste of how good coffee can be,” he says.

Though the entrepreneurship piece may not have come so naturally at first, he wants to see the business thrive and bring joy. And as someone who has faced challenges with his mental health, he’s working on the same for himself. During his experience in the Food Lab, he was able to find just the right blend of support to push forward.

“HGC has been instrumental in providing help, support, and education for me and my business. I am tempted to describe their support as a lifeline since I really felt at sea before,” he describes. He notes that feeling so welcomed by the staff and HGC’s pro bono coaches makes a big difference.  

As his sales and subscriptions continue to steadily grow, he’s imagining future additions to his business plan. For instance, it would be satisfying to open a small coffee bar in the area where he can interface with people and share his inspiring energy about the possibilities that can come from a single cup of coffee.

He says HGC “will continue to be a crucial resource for my business for a very long time.”

Written by Caroline Tremblay.