Cat Gardner had two compelling reasons to start her coffee business. In her 20 years of service as a paramedic she frequently found herself drinking poor quality old coffee from convenient stores. She aspired to produce a higher quality coffee for her community that would also enable her to meaningfully pursue her giving spirit.
As a regular at her local farmers market, she connected with a local coffee vendor who was happy to serve as her mentor. She volunteered to help him roast and delved into intensive research to learn all she could about the roasting process and coffee business. In the Spring of 2018, she made the big commitment to purchase her own roaster. Through an entrepreneurial workshop she connected with the co-op Catracha Coffee. It was the perfect fit! The partnership enabled her to support a group of small farms in Honduras who in turn helped her provide high quality coffee to her community and engage in local fundraising!
In the Summer of 2018 she officially started Two Labs Coffee, which she named after her two beloved rescue labs. She has consistently prioritized giving back to her community and generously donates a percentage of sales to a number of worthy causes including the Fluvanna SPCA and the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Department. Most recently she developed a specialty blend for a successful fundraiser for the band of her alma mater, Freeman High School. She has even supported the children of farmers in Honduras by featuring their artwork on her coffee bags!
She now enjoys unwinding at the end of her workday as a high school EMT Instructor with music and the calming, inviting aromas of roasting. Using her manual roaster really is an art that requires focused attention. She points out that in larger coffee producers’ quest for consistency, they sacrifice taste and uniqueness. She adds, “The reason to go local and small is that the coffee is roasted properly and more recently. Fresh coffee makes a huge difference.”
Cat attentively listens to customers’ preferences to match them with the best blend, which can vary extensively based upon the region where the beans are grown and how they are roasted. She clearly loves what she does, remarking, “It makes me happy to bring high quality, small batch specialty coffee to the every day person. I love that I can use what I produce to give back to the community.” Whether you like your coffee bold, smooth, nutty, with a touch of spice or notes of cocoa or fruit…she’s got it! Try a few blends through her one-pot sampler four pack!
She enjoys experimenting with new blends and always welcomes feedback. Come visit her at the Manakin Market on July 4th where you can try her latest creation. You can also pick up some of her delicious chocolate bars that incorporate her coffee like Gingerbread Latte, Hazelnut Milk Chocolate, and Mardi Gras Dark Chocolate! See the entire line-up and pre-order at the Two Labs Coffee website!