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23rd Annual Golden Fork Awards

Best Cup of Coffee

The perfect cup of coffee is to Bill Heiges as Moby Dick was to Captain Ahab.107-GF-Copper-Rock

“It’s something that we’re always in search of — that perfect cup,” says Heiges, who heads roasting operations for Copper Rock Coffee Company in downtown Appleton. “Coffee is constantly changing. Our attitude is you’re never going to be perfect, but you’re always in pursuit of it.”

Copper Rock Coffee Co., winner of the Golden Fork for Best Cup of Coffee, has been a staple of downtown Appleton for nearly 15 years and has been roasting beans in-house for the past 10. With a second location on Appleton’s Northside and a third inside Copper State Brewery in Green Bay, coffee lovers throughout Northeast Wisconsin don’t have to search hard for their favorite cup.

To help in his pursuit of the perfect cup, Heiges has assembled a cupping team made up of employees, customers and colleagues who conduct blind tastings and scorings of each roast. “We grade the coffee and compare notes and see what we like the best,” he says. The coffees that make the cut are served up to Copper Rock customers.

Heiges owns the coffee empire and roastery with his wife, Emily, and this fall the Heiges are making a significant investment in their roasting operations. Three years ago they purchased a legendary vintage German coffee roaster and spent the last two years rebuilding it using original parts but adding new motors, bearings and controls. Heiges says this new roaster will provide time-tested quality with modern day convenience and will increase roasting control for a more nuanced product.

While coffee is certainly at the forefront of the business, Brandt Swardenski of Neenah says the personal service keeps him coming back. “A quality cup of coffee is more than the roast of the beans. It is the entire experience the makes the brew,” he says. “I could brew coffee at home, but starting my day with Copper Rock provides more than caffeine, but a foundation of human kindness and beauty to begin my day.” — ACW

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