Rusty Isaacs is the Owner of Mountaineer Roasting located in Morgantown, West Virginia – in Monongalia County. Isaacs was born in Charleston, West Virginia, and lived there his entire life until he came to West Virginia University in 2011, where he graduated with a degree in International Development. While in college, he was a leader in the youth ministry Young Life and was also very involved in a student-run coffee company called First Hand.
Isaacs spent some time on a coffee farm in Nicaragua learned where they source their coffee from, and that was the moment that solidified his desire to work in the coffee industry. Right out of college, he worked as a craft beer salesman for a beer distributor but was looking for an opportunity to break back into the coffee industry.
He was offered a job in a new University building at a new coffee shop. Through a long series of events, that job went from barista to manager to opening a roastery to being the owner of the roastery. Mountaineer Roasting has been operating for over two years now, and they just opened our first coffee shop this past August.
How did you get started in this industry?
“When I was a freshman in college, a shop in Charleston opened up called Moxy. When I was home over the summers I would go there a lot and I got to know a few of the people that worked there. A friend of mine that was into coffee kept taking me there and showing me that coffee is something bigger than what I thought it was.
Then I had an experience with the owner where he brewed up this fantastic coffee for me and it was unlike anything I had ever had before. Shortly after that, I started working there in the summers, and then when I was here in Morgantown for my junior year, I started working at The Grind.
Through these jobs, I got connected with friends that are still working in the coffee industry. We listened to podcasts, read books and watched videos because we just wanted to learn more about coffee. When I got the opportunity in college to work with First Hand through a professor, he talked about going to Nicaragua to a coffee farm he had been working with.
Going there was a big eye-opener to me that this industry is so much bigger than I thought it was. I then graduated and worked at craft beer salesman at Ralphs and it was a great sales experience. Then I was given this job opportunity, and I jumped on it quickly,” said Isaacs.
What is your 30-second pitch?
“My goal with this business is that we are going to be a high-end specialty coffee company in West Virginia that pushes the coffee industry forward in our state,” said Isaacs.
What is the vision for your company long-term?
“We plan on having multiple locations throughout the state, this idea of expansion is intimidating enough, but we do have longer-term goals. Beyond that, my manager and I want to make sure that we have a healthy company culture that is noticeably different from other companies,” said Isaacs.
Isaacs was a guest on the Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.
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- PIECE OF ADVICE: “You need to be solid on why you are doing what you’re doing every day,” advised Issacs.