Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce Past President Dan Harrington, Chamber Director Caitlin Christiana, Flying Crow Coffee Co. Co-Owner and Café Manager Sam Hills and Owner Ben Hills and their beautiful children, Chamber Vice President Kelen Beardsley, Springfield Regional Development Corporation Director Bob Flint, Property Owner Laurentiu Traineanu, Chamber Board Member Michelle Morse, SRDC Assistant Director Heather Hartford, Chamber Board Member Ben Bolaski.
Springfield Vermont officially has a coffee shop again!! The Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce was thrilled to perform a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 8th in celebration of the Grand Opening of Flying Crow Coffee Co. at 3 Main Street in downtown Springfield. The project started as a small-scale garage operation in February of 2018. Owner Ben Hills spent months refining his roasting schedule, gradually expanding into a coffee roasting facility in the downstairs of the current site, and eventually growing into the added concept of a micro café on the street level, running a soft opening for the month of February, with the grand opening held on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Running a coffee shop was not part of the original plan, but Ben and his wife and co-owner, Sam, made the decision to open the café in May of 2018 after much public outcry, and it’s safe to say that Springfield is enormously glad they did! Ben says since opening, they have been “having a blast” serving this community.
Ben was born in Wading River, New York, raised mostly in southern Worcester county of Massachusetts, and he lived in Arizona for twelve years before moving back east. Sam is an “army brat” and has lived all over. Ben and Sam met at Atlantic Culinary Academy where he graduated in 2007 with a Le Cordon Bleu diploma and Associates of Science in Culinary Arts. They consider themselves “foodies,” a trait that is evident in the care they take with the selection of their offerings. Ben first became involved in the coffee industry in 2006 when he first tried roasted to order coffee. Then, in Bisbee and Tucson Arizona, he had the good fortune of having multiple local Specialty Coffee roasters to enjoy. Ben and his family have lived in Springfield since April of 2018. “We recognized that Springfield had a need for more businesses downtown and the community looked right for our family. We love the community, the easy access to natural areas, and the great local businesses.”
Flying Crow Coffee Co. is a Certified Fairtrade roaster of Fairtrade Organic sourced specialty coffees. Their specialties are house blends and single origins. They offer coffee by the pound to wholesale and retail customers via their cafe and website. The micro cafe offers coffee brewed fresh, Fairtrade teas and hot chocolate, espresso drinks, specialty and experimental coffee drinks, a slow bar for individually crafted coffees by the single or double serving, and locally sourced baked goods. Flying Crow focuses on keeping batch sizes small when roasting, tasting and evaluating every roast, and providing super fresh coffee. In the micro café they encourage customers to stick around to enjoy their coffee rather than try to turn over as many customers as possible. This has made the seating area a popular spot for local customers to gather, catch up, hold meetings, and slow down for a bit. “We encourage customers to sit and enjoy their drinks, meet up with friends, relax, and socialize.” Currently their regional coverage is Southern Vermont. They have wholesale accounts in Ludlow, Bellows Falls, Putney, and Springfield. Their online customers are from all over the country, including one in Hawaii.
When asked about the best aspects of the business, Ben says “the great aroma and flavor of fresh roasted coffee is the top one for sure!!! Beyond that our customers enjoy the environment we provide in the micro cafe.” Anything he dreads?? “Inventory shortages. As a very tightly budgeted company, we have a fairly small inventory of green coffee and when it gets close to or runs out it puts us in quite the scramble.” Contending with supply and demand is a challenge Ben takes very seriously, in the dedicated interest of providing consistent quality and service. They just recently hired their first part-time employee, and they hope to take on another part-timer very soon – they’re waiting for applicants with a passion for coffee.
Beyond their obvious enthusiasm for all things coffee-related, Ben and Sam are also incredibly community-minded. “We have donated coffee to a number of fundraisers, and the local Warming Shelter,” Ben shares. “We’re active in the Chamber of Commerce. At the cafe we make it a focus to inform our customers about events and business in the community. We are always looking for ways to have more community involvement.” When asked what being a Chamber member means to them, Ben elaborates, “The Chamber was our first and most valuable way to meet and engage with other business owners on a regular basis. From sharing social media posts and putting on mixers, to providing valuable advice and always extending an invitation to help, the Springfield Chamber has, without a doubt, been one of the top resources to our business. Being a member of the Chamber has been indispensable.”
A lesser known fact about Flying Crow Coffee Co. is that their beautiful iconic logo is inspired by a memorial tattoo in memory of seven pregnancies Ben and his wife Sam have lost. “We are lucky enough to have two healthy and wonderful children,” he reflects. “When we were naming the business, we both found it important to tie it to something personally significant in our lives, as this business's formation, and what fuels it daily, is passion.”
Ben would like to express his gratitude to the following businesses, individuals, and organizations: “Thank you to all the wholesale customers who had the good faith to work with Flying Crow early on: the Springfield Food Co-op, The Copper Fox, and the Flat Iron Exchange in Bellows Falls. The Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce for helping us get off to a roaring start and making us feel welcome, Bob Flint with Springfield Regional Development Corporation and Debra Boudrieau with the local Small Business Development Center. The Town of Springfield. We also received much help and encouragement from many people and local businesses including Clever Cow Designs, Trout River Brewing Company, Springfield on the Move, our landlord Larry Traineanu, and a ton of other folks. I would hate to leave anyone out, but this list could go on a while! Springfield has been an amazing community to us!”
Flying Crow Coffee Co. is in need of an equipment upgrade – the onslaught of local enthusiasm is testing the limits of their little home espresso maker, and they need to invest in a commercial grade model in order to better meet the Springfield community’s unquenchable demand! They currently have a Kickstarter campaign underway to help raise funds for the investment, so if you’re a coffee connoisseur, or just interested to support an absolutely wonderful small area business, check it out! (Simply go to www.kickstarter.com and search “Flying Crow” to contribute to this delicious cause!) Flying Crow Coffee Co.’s micro cafe is open Wednesday through Friday: 7am to 2pm, Saturday: 7am to 6pm, and Sunday: 10am to 2pm (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). For more information, call 802-289-7175, visit the website at www.flyingcrowcoffee.com, check out their active and entertaining Facebook page, or do the most logical thing, and stop by their location at 3 Main Street in downtown Springfield to taste for yourself!