Two Baylor University graduates are opening a new coffee roaster business in McGregor, with the goal of designing coffee shop-specific brands.

Dylan Washington, 22, and John David Beard, 23, expect Pinewood Roasters to open in about a month, selling their products online and in local coffee shops.

“I think what makes our business plan competitive is the fact we want to nurture really, really intentional relationships with coffee shops, and what I mean is, we want to go to a coffee shop and help them solidify their identity,” Washington said.

He said they plan to design and brand coffees that customers can purchase only at that particular coffee shop.

“Our thing would be to go to an owner and say, ‘Hey, don’t you want a customer to come in here and experience something they can only experience here and create a demand they can only come here to get?’ ” Washington said. “We want to work with anyone who wants a coffee that’s uniquely theirs. I feel like everyone has the right to have a product that’s theirs and that they can be proud of.”

With a roaster already in place, the duo got funding from investors and a business loan to open Pinewood Roasters out of a rented space at 403 W. Second St. in McGregor.

The roaster allows for a batch of coffee to be roasting on top while a batch is cooling at the bottom.

“It’s quite an unbelievable piece of machinery,” said Washington, who has a history degree from Baylor.

The hope is to sell 500 pounds of coffee a week, which would make a profit for Pinewood, Washington said.

Beard said Pinewood needs to sell 100 pounds a week to break even.

“It’s hard because (John) and I are both coffee shop people, so we’re like, ‘Oh we’re not in it for the money,’” Washington said. “And a lot of times we have to force ourselves to be salesmen, and I think what that entails is knowing you have an awesome product.”

Washington said he discovered the art of coffee-brewing while working at Starbucks. His manager at the time was Brett Jameson, now the owner of Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits in downtown Waco.

“I spent a lot of nights over at Brett’s house learning everything about coffee,” Washington said. “The first cup of specialty coffee I ever had was given to me by Brett. He brewed it and I hated it. It tasted nothing like Starbucks. But he did teach me everything I know now and I know what a good product is.”

Now, teacher and student will open roasters 19 miles apart.

Apex Coffee Roasters

Jameson is launching Apex Coffee Roasters from a former plumbing supply building he bought at 324 S. Sixth St. in Waco. The company will serve Dichotomy and others interested in the product for wholesale, but will not have a cafe or retail presence, he said. Jameson said he expects Apex to open this summer.

Jameson said he is not concerned about another roaster opening so close.

“We’ll be selling coast to coast at some point, so the target isn’t just local,” Jameson said.

Jameson also is leasing out the rest of his building space for other entrepreneurial businesses, and Brotherwell Brewing hopes to join the club.

Jameson said he is negotiating with the owners of Brotherwell Brewing and is looking forward to collaborating with another new, local company.

Brotherwell Brewing co-owner David Stoneking said he expects to know in two weeks if the lease can be finalized.

“It’s very exciting for us,” said Stoneking, who co-owns the company with Tommy Mote and Jacob Martinka.

Stoneking said the brewery equipment should arrive by the end of August. He said they will have to make a few modifications to the building to support the work if the lease is approved. After the equipment arrives, and if the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission finalizes their permit, they can begin brewing.

“Once they give us the final go-ahead, then we can start producing and then we’re in business,” Stoneking said.

Washington and Beard also have worked for Common Grounds, near Baylor University, which is where Beard learned to love and appreciate coffee.

Washington said he has heard a lot of people over the years say they can’t taste the difference between coffees.

“I think everyone has kind of come to the conclusion that you can taste things in wine. You know you can taste this or this out of this wine. A wine grape has 800 chemical compounds that go into the taste,” he said. “A coffee seed, which is what a coffee bean is, has 2,400-plus that go into it and 1,800 of them can be manipulated in the roasting process. When you taste coffee and it just tastes like coffee, the problem is the roaster. The roaster doesn’t know what they are doing and creates something that’s just scalded.”

Wholesale, online

Beard, who has a management degree from Baylor, said selling wholesale and online is Pinewood’s focus.

“This isn’t a coffee shop. Maybe in a year it could be, but if someone locally walks in and wants a bag of coffee, we’d be more than happy to bag it up and send it with them,” he said.