NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (AP)- Who figured that one of The Bad Boys of Boston would grow to become a connoisseur of gourmet coffee.
That's the case with Joey Kramer, the drummer for the rock band Aerosmith.
Kramer, 63, has become the front man for a new coffee brand called Rockin' & Roastin' which is produced in North Andover.
The beans are grown in Ethiopia, Guatemala and Sumatra, part of Indonesia; but they're roasted, packaged and distributed by Comfort Foods Inc. Headed by North Andover's Stephen Beattie Jr., the firm is at 25 Commerce Way which has been in business since 1992 and employs 15 workers.
The company has thrived in North Andover since 2001.
"I'm a coffee nut," Kramer told The Eagle-Tribune. He's been a coffee drinker "ever since I can remember" and for quite some time, he was looking for the perfect brew, he said.
"It's my opinion that most Americans drink inferior coffee," he said. He traveled the world in search of that right brand and concluded Guatemala, Sumatra and Ethiopia grow the best beans.
He also said he wanted to produce a gourmet brand that's not too expensive. Some brands, he noted, sell for as much as $30 to $40 per pound.
Kramer and the two men who founded Rockin' & Roastin' with him, Frank Cimler and Ron Mann, insist the new product is "music to your lips."
Besides Comfort Foods, the new brew has another connection to New England - Ernie Boch Jr., the auto dealership mogul.
Through next June, Rockin' & Roastin' will donate a portion of its sales to Music Drives Us, a nonprofit started by Boch. The foundation provides grants for music programs that help people in need throughout New England.
Boch is also a musician - and in a separate conversation with The Eagle-Tribune, he also said, "I'm a coffee nut." He and Kramer have been friends for 25 years, he said.
Kramer said he is excited about his partnership with Boch. Besides their common passion for coffee and music, they also love cars, Kramer said.
"Ernie and I have long shared a love of music and with my pledge, we will be able to further deliver that passion to local New England communities that are near and dear to both of us," said Kramer, who lived in Boston for 44 years before moving to Georgetown, Texas, with his wife Linda.
"Boston will always be my home," he said. Indeed, Aerosmith originated in Boston in 1970.
The other band members are guitarist Joe Perry, bassist Tom Hamilton, singer Steven Tyler, and guitarist Ray Tabano.
"I drink and recommend Joey Kramer's Rockin' & Roastin' coffee and I am honored he has chosen Music Drives Us to share the benefits of his philanthropic efforts," Boch said.
Beattie said he expects Rockin' & Roastin' will be on area store shelves by August. It can already be purchased by visiting rockinandroastin.com.
Comfort Foods already roasts, packages and distributes the Harmony Bay brand of coffee, which is sold at Market Basket, Stop & Shop, Shaw's, Hannaford's, Walmart and Roche Brothers.
Beattie provided an overview of how coffee, the second-most traded commodity in the world after oil, travels from the coffee-growing regions along the equator to either your kitchen table or your favorite coffee shop.
After being picked, washed and dried, the beans are put in burlap bags, each weighing 60 kilograms, 132 pounds, and carried by container ship to New York. Each container has 275 bags, Beattie said.
The container is then trucked to Comfort Foods, where the bags are unloaded and put through the "destoning" process, which removes stones and any other impurities. After destoning, the beans are dumped into a gas-fired roaster. The roasting, at 470 degrees, lasts for 13 minutes.
Each batch weighs 450 pounds, according to Bob Leonard, Comfort Foods' roastmaster and quality control manager. Leonard, who has been roasting coffee beans since 1987, said his craft is not taught in schools. Checking coffee for quality, he said, is similar to wine tasting.
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