Ryan Lemley, owner of Ridge Roasters Coffee, talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about Ridge Roasters, the differences between the coffee roasts, his worst business moment and his advice to entrepreneurs.
Ridge Roasters Coffee is a roasting company that locally roasts the finest coffees from Honduras, Ethiopia, Guatemala and other countries in small batches to the most exacting standards. The result is an exceptional coffee roast that has won the hearts and pallets of coffee lovers across the mountain state. Lemley and his wife, Carley, are coffee lovers, and they have turned their obsession into a thriving business. What started out as a hobby is now a full time business, and their mission is to share fresh roasted, deliciously smooth coffee with their friends, family and community around the state of West Virginia and beyond.
How did you get started in this business?
“We took a trip to Columbus, Ohio, back in 2014 to a concert. While there, we stopped at a coffee shop called Mission Coffee. We drank coffee in the past, but we weren’t huge coffee drinkers. We went into the shop, and just the experience with the baristas and the people behind the counter made us fall in love with what coffee could be. The people were good to us and treated us great.” Lemley said. “We didn’t feel the experience was in the Morgantown area as much as we would like. So we can home, found a friend who has a coffee farm in Columbia and went and talked to him. We saw how he was roasting coffee at the time, and we came come and decided ‘let’s give that a try.’ We did that for several months. We handed that out to family, friends and the community. They started asking for it and wanting it. We decided that if they were going to keep asking for it, maybe we should take the next step.”
Is each roast different?
“Yes, each roast is a little bit different. Each coffee or origin has different flavor profiles that are picked up in the environment that it grows in, in the altitudes and the weather. It makes each coffee unique,” Lemley said.
What was been your worst business moment so far?
“I was working another job, and I worked a 12 hour day. I had been out on the road, driving all over the state doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was supposed to receive a shipment of coffee for over a 100 pound order. The shipping company dropped the ball and didn’t get the coffee to me. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but I was flying out to Texas the next day for a work conference with Carley,” Lemley said. “I went back and forth with the shipping company and had to find out how I could get the coffee. They told me that they were at the warehouse for 24 hours a day so I got home about 7:30 and hopped in the car and drove up to Pittsburgh to pick the coffee up myself. The roundtrip was about 30 to 50 miles. I got home about midnight and then had to start roasting. I had to get this order done. So, we pulled an all nighter roasting from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m..”
“We had to do what we had to do to get it done. When you have orders on the table, there isn’t an option to not get them done.”
What is one piece of advice you would give an entrepreneur?
“Pray about it,” advised Lemley. “And, then if you feel that it is the right move, then go for it.”
“I also think it’s important to align yourself with people who are positive and encouraging and who believe in what you are doing.”
Listen to Lemley’s full podcast here.
PWV QUICK BITS
- RECOMMENDED BOOKS: Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Slack
- PERSON LEMLEY WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Steve Finn
Lemley’s contact information: