KITTANNING – Armstrong County will have the opportunity to taste-test coffee from around the world during tonight’s light-up event in Kittanning.
Ispirare (pronounced EES-PEE-R-A) Coffee (which means “inspirational”) is the result of Michael and Amber Rizzo traveling the world, selecting only the best coffee bean to sell at their home-based business that began last April.
“We always liked coffee. Every time we traveled, we would go to different coffee shops. Three years ago, we went to coffee school in Italy. We wanted to do something in coffee. About two years ago, we started talking to La Prima, which is a roaster in Pittsburgh, about starting a coffee brand. We wanted an inspirational brand and serve really high-end coffee. It took us about a year to find out which coffees we wanted. We ended up going for it.”
Rizzo said they will be unveiling his newest blend of coffee tonight during the light-up festivities.
“The winter blend is actually beans from Sumatra (Indonesia), South America, and Ethiopia. Our Italian blend is from Tanzania and Peru. They are coming from all over the world. The one thing that we are focusing on is organic coffee.”
Rather than focusing on immediate growth, the Rizzos have emphasized getting specific outlets for their brand. Angelo Mantini has purchased the former Nolte Body Shop building and has extensively remodeled it. When it opens in the next several months, it will also feature a coffee bar with high-end coffee, including Rizzo’s Ispirare brand.
Rizzo said because he and his wife control the branding, coffee shops who wish to sell it must meet certain criteria.
“We are able to be very selective on who we deal with, who sells our coffee, and where we sell our coffee. We are not pushing it to make a profit. We are just trying to grow and introduce people to good coffee.”
Rizzo said that good coffee starts with the bean. Grinding takes place in the home or coffee bar.
“We only sell whole beans. Coffee should be ground to serve, so we only sell beans. People ask us this question quite frequently. But we are committed to only selling beans. We’ve converted a lot of people to go out and get home grinders and they thank us dearly for it!”
Rizzo doesn’t envision his coffee being sold beyond the western Pennsylvania market because only so many beans are available.
“I think we are definitely prepared to grow. It’s not going to grow super big because the amount of coffee we can (import) is regulated. There is only so many of those beans available on the market. We found coffees that we can get consistently, but it doesn’t mean we can sell thousands of pounds of them. We are very much a craft micro-roaster.”
The Rizzos have one-year-old twins and hope that they will become a part of the business some day, selling the only coffee that is marketed from Kittanning, Pennsylvania!
The Rizzos will be at Light Up Kittanning Night in the Food Court area of North Jefferson Street with their Ispirare Coffee.
“We will be giving out free samples, selling cups of it, and we will be selling bags of it.”
Rizzo said one 12-ounce bag retails for approximately $15.