Dining News

Brewing For Good with Veteran Coffee Roasters

Owner Bob Mastin's new venture helps support war vets


Custom House Coffee roasters of Middletown brings you Veteran Coffee Roasters, a new brand with a philanthropic bent. Its aim: to support veterans charities, with a dollar from every pound of coffee sold. In addition to their normal Custom House offerings, this new Veteran Coffee brand offers a whole line of different two-bean blends. All tastes are accommodated, with a full range of different profiles, including the very necessary, but ultimately heretical, decaf.

Bob Mastin, owner of Custom House Coffee, is himself a Vietnam Navy Vet, and has been heavily involved in community outreach locally. He serves on the board of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center, and has often used his Custom House roasts for worthy causes.

Considering his background and interests, Bob says he doesn’t know why he didn’t do this earlier. Speaking to him, it’s clear he remembers he and his fellow veteran’s treatment upon returning from Vietnam, and wants to support programs that will do better for today’s generation of returning soldiers.

Currently, the dollar a pound he’s generating is going to the Wounded Warrior Project, which exists to address the needs of severely injured veterans of the post 9/11 military conflicts, but Bob intends to fund a range of different charities. He is particularly interested in working with VetDogs in the future, a program that provides guide dogs and assistance dogs for injured veterans, as well as using dogs therapeutically for the treatment of PTSD.

Because good fresh beans are a type of produce, and not a commodity, they can’t be sourced year round from the same locations, but Bob does source beans with similar qualities to achieve the same general balance for each of the six blends he has on offer. This also allows for the consistency in labeling product that his wholesaling demands. Each of the beans has a military name to fit its niche, for instance, I got the Reveille Roast, a lighter roast of Guatemalan and Costa Rican Tarrazu beans that pack a punch to “drag you out of the rack.”

Bob has been roasting for well over a decade, when he started at home with a simple air roaster and some green beans from the staple of green bean mail order, Sweet Maria’s.
Self-employed since he left the Navy, he had the confidence and experience to open Custom House Coffee in May 2002. Since then, serving clients like Whole Foods in Cranston and Providence, Belmont Market, the Navy Exchange and many smaller retail outlets, has made for steady growth and expansion of production.

Bob is still very involved in tasting his blends, but he also leans heavily on his staff, some of whom he’s happy to admit have a superior palate. There’s another fixture at Custom House he relies upon as well, Pete. Pete came in the second day they were open, and has been back ever since, both on the way in and out of work at Peckham Bros Construction.

He always drinks the daily varietal, and does a mixture of shooting the breeze and rendering judgment. If you want to try their Veteran Coffee offerings, stop by on “Military Monday.” On every Monday they serve their Veteran’s Coffee, both brewed coffee and espresso, and veterans and active military receive half off all day on both drinks and beans. 796 Aquidneck Ave, Middletown. 401-849-3631.