Rothrock Coffee - From BMX to Beans
Jamie Bestwick and Ronnie Napolitan are badass BMX riders, owners of Rothrock Coffee, and ambassadors for Stan's NoTubes. Both Jamie and Ronnie originally transplanted to State College, Pennsylvania to be closer to the Woodward training facility. After becoming friends, finding out that they shared a similar vision of bringing a coffee shop to the local community, and venturing into different cycling disciplines, Rothrock Coffee was born.
#FUELEDBYROTHROCK x Stan's Notubes GIVEAWAY!
You don’t want to miss this! The first 50 people to complete the following steps will win a 2oz bottle of tire sealant + a bag of Rothrock Coffee!
We will re-share our favorite photos as they come in. #bikesandcoffee forever!
Stan's NoTubes: From afar, Freestyle BMX riding and roasting coffee don't seem to have much in common. When and why did you realize you wanted to open up your cafe?
Ronnie Napolitan: From afar that seems to be very true! What most people don't realize is that in freestyle BMX, or any competitive cycling, coffee and bikes go very much hand in hand. When I was traveling for competitions or filming video projects, I used coffee shops as my way of getting a quick boost of energy or to spend some time away from the crew that I was with.
Lots of the BMX Street projects would require long days of riding, which would often stretch into long nights of lighting up street spots to film as well. Some long nights of riding and filming would go down, and I always seemed to be the early riser the next day. Most mornings while people were still sleeping, I would venture off to coffee shops to taste different styles and brewing methods that they would serve. It started to become very interesting to me how different roasted coffee from different regions of the world could taste so different. Soon your taste buds start to learn what is good and what is bad in terms of flavor, balance, and acidity. It was also interesting how some places would serve the same coffee but it could taste so different.
In 2014 I had a Bilateral ACL surgery, moved back to State College, and knew I wanted to start a cafe of some kind. Jamie and I have known each other for quite some time through riding BMX together. I got wind that Jamie was also interested in starting a cafe on a trip to The Wheel Mill Skatepark in Pittsburgh PA. We started chatting more about it and roasting coffees together at a location in our area. Soon after that Rothrock Coffee became a reality! All of these events kept digging me personally deeper and deeper into the world of coffee and wanting to roast, as well as supply others with our brand.
Jamie Bestwick: For me, the cafe was the culmination of 17 years of dreaming about opening up a place where people could sit, converse, and enjoy all the benefits that cafes deliver. It was a place to build community and also bring in an experience that I felt was missing from State College. The roasting was all part of the coffee education process. I myself spent weeks in Chicago training on how to roast coffee and why and how different coffee types had special roasting requirements when trying to capture the true taste of its origin, the farmer's hard work, and dedication.
I think roasting at the cafe allowed the customers to join us on our coffee education journey and really see that passion and dedication to providing a quality product that we stood by. We have developed an attention to detail that supersedes the expectations of what is expected from our cafe, or any cafe for that matter, and this is something we are especially proud of and continually develop. A great product requires hard work.
SNT: Access to the Rothrock State Forrest is only a handful of miles from the front door of Rothrock Coffee and some of your blends are named after popular trails. What influence do the local forest and outdoor community have on your business?
RN: Rothrock Coffee was created to fuel everyday adventures! We choose the name because Rothrock is such a large part of the community here in State College, PA. Rothrock State Forest is the place for activities and adventure. Whether it's mountain biking, hiking, fishing, camping, gravel riding, or trail running. Rothrock is community and family-based much like our cafe and what we see our coffees as. This is why we wanted to name our blends after our favorite, or just popular trails in the forest. We wanted to have a local presence that everyone would recognize. Neither Jamie or I are originally from here, but we love it here! I believe that Jamie has been here for 20+ years and I'm coming up on about 14 years. This is where I live, ride, love, and plan to stay!
JB: Rothrock State Forest is a huge inspiration for us. The forest is a place of enjoyment for not only myself and Ronnie but for all our staff. It's year-round charm and versatility is something that really inspires us at the shop to produce products that resonate with our outdoor living customers and those who have aspirations of the great outdoors and the experience it brings. The names are incorporated from the forest for good reason, they’re some of our favorite trail destinations within the forest and, like our coffees, those destinations and trails are constantly evolving. We chose Bear Meadows for instance because its an integral part of the connectivity of Rothrock and that transfers into exploring our coffee. Bear Meadows is a premium blend that works as a connector to all our drinks in the cafe and to customers picking up a bag. It's a gateway to introducing you to what really lies within Rothrock Coffee. The coffee works as the connector to not only our espresso-based drinks, it also is an introduction to our promise on delivering you a great experience, hard work, and dedication to our journey, much like the trail network that is attached to Bear Meadows.
SNT: Ronnie and Jamie, you've both diversified from BMX riding, Ronnie on the MTB mostly, and Jamie has gotten heavily into the gravel scene, what made you guys pursue those other disciplines?
RN: The natural transition from Freestyle BMX to MTB is actually an easy one when it comes to downhill riding. Already having the bike control and muscle memory was huge. I would say that the hardest thing to do for me was to build a different kind of strength for climbing, going distances, and holding cadence. BMX requires very explosive energy in small outputs, but you don't need to really have much endurance or cardio for the style of BMX I was riding in at least. This was what really challenged me to riding MTB and sparked such a large interest for me. During my knee surgery, I was teaching indoor spin classes, doing a little personal training, and riding road bikes to help with my recovery. Then, once I starting getting comfortable to ride MTB it was all on from there! Now, I ride MTB probably 6 days a week, if it fits my schedule. Amazing trails are only a couple miles from the cafe, and it's that natural transition for me to still challenge myself and compete with myself personally.
JB: I really wanted to try something new and the appeal of gravel bikes was very enticing. The community looked inviting and the events looked fun. My first venture/introduction to gravel was at The Sugarcane 200 in Florida this year and the event in itself proved to be a wild adventure of grand proportions. I headed down there with Stan’s Team rider Brett Beard. Overall, it was a great time and I met some fantastic people who maybe in the road scene wouldn’t have given me the time of day. Even after making rookie mistakes within the race, I had a great time sharing the ride with some industry greats, a Kona Iron Woman champion, and riders taking in the breathtaking scenery. My bike was set up like a little more like a relaxed road bike and it was my first time on clip-on bars--which are completely frowned upon by the gravel community I guess but, hey, it's bikes and it's on gravel, and it was fun, so what the hell, I did it anyway. Funnily enough I remember Ted King giving me some jibes on the start line at 5am. I think he’d forgot he’d won Kanza with clip ons one year and unfortunately for him he was edged out in Florida for the win by a guy with clip ons. Kind of ironic I guess.
I did just pick up a brand new XC Mountain Bike. I have always wanted a Specialized Epic and the guys over there did me a great deal on a new bike, which at this time in bike sales was incredibly lucky--lucky they even had any in stock. (I got one of the last 3 bikes before they were out!) So now I am excited to get back on the trails again with a bike that’s not got 170mm of travel but can still have fun ripping the descents.
SNT: OK, time to get serious. Who can bunny hop higher, Jamie or Ronnie? Talking trash is encouraged.
RN: HA . . . . Well, there is no competition here. I can CRUSH Jamie at a higher bunny hop! I got that one all day, but stick us on a vert ramp and I'll gladly take a seat and watch the show.
JB: Without a shadow of a doubt Ronnie! Having just turned 49 my Bunnyhop career is in its twilight, haha, and due to the fact that Ronnie lost a bunch of weight, he now doesn’t have to manhandle that fat ass of his into a Jordan-esque leap! I still got him on Candybars though, and not the confectionery kind, although if you eat it on enough of either kind you’ll lose some teeth for sure! haha