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Impero Coffee Soon to be Roaming Goat Coffee

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Impero Coffee Soon to be Roaming Goat Coffee
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Regulars at the Short North’s Impero Coffee will have a new name to call home come December. For the last year, Roaming Goat Coffee owner Jason Thomas has been transitioning the space into what will become a showcase for the wholesale roasting business he’s ran for four years.

Back then, there wasn’t too much competition: “It was pretty much Stauf’s and Crimson Cup,” says Thomas. But, in recent years, the local coffee industry has exploded. “We’re a little different, because most focus on either wholesale or a coffee shop, and now we’re able to do both.”

Thomas had been searching for an opportunity to open a Roaming Goat coffee shop for over a year before buying Impero last December. His hope is to expand his wholesale production as more people experience the coffees firsthand. With a production site over on Bush Avenue in Worthington, Roaming Goat is able to have between 15 and 25 regular and organic coffees on hand at any given time.

Beyond the coffee, the space at 849 North High Street is in the middle of an aesthetic transformation. “In need of a little updating,” it’s getting new white subway tile, wood and metal accents, and new furniture and decor. Local artists will still display their pieces as Thomas strives to maintain the local, artsy vibe he feels the Short North has been losing over the years. And this week, the official signage will switch over to match the Roaming Goat name and branding.

The name itself comes from coffee’s supposed origin story. It’s said that a goat herder named Kaldi noticed that, after one of his goats sampled some berries from a certain tree, it became so energetic that it was awake through the night.

“Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread,” according to a history detailed by the National Coffee Association. “As word moved east and coffee reached the Arabian peninsula, it began a journey which would bring these beans across the globe.”

Roaming Goat took off in 2013, and at first it was just Thomas and another partner running the roasting and distribution. His partner moved to Florida, leaving a vacancy quickly occupied by Thomas’ current righthand man, Alex Hill. Together, and with a staff of about 10, Hill and Thomas distribute Roaming Goat coffees at coffee shops, farmers markets and grocery stores.

Outside of their new coffeehouse, Roaming Goat’s coffees can be found at both Hills Market locations, Lucy’s Market and Weiland’s Market in Clintonville, The Fresh Market in Upper Arlington, and select Meijer locations.

For more information, visit roaminggoatcoffee.com.

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