Joe Reiser, an OSU alumnus and owner of Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees, examines the final phase of the roast at the store’s roaster in Piqua, Ohio. Credit: Courtesy of Bill Frantz

Joe Reiser, an OSU alumnus and owner of Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees, examines the final phase of the roast at the store’s roaster in Piqua, Ohio.
Credit: Courtesy of Bill Frantz

Fair Trade. Organic. Single-origin coffee.

These words are not thrown around in the stores of Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees merely to attract customers. Living with a passion for coffee has enabled Joe Reiser, owner of Winans and Ohio State alumnus, to adopt these philosophies in his coffee products.

To achieve this goal, Reiser and his wife, Laurie Winans, only use perfectly ripe Arabica coffee beans that were hand-picked by farmers from growing countries. Fair trade to Reiser means paying a fair price for the coffee beans so that the farmers will be able to afford proper tools and organic fertilizers, he said. In turn, quality coffee beans are produced.

“Those farmers work really, really hard to make that happen,” Reiser said. “If you pick some of them too late and some too early, they’ll all be different sizes, and when you roast it, some of them will burn because it’s smaller, and then you’re forced to burn all your coffee until they’re dark, and that’s what bigger companies do.”

Although coffee quality is Winans’ primary concern, peace and happiness come hand-in-hand with the sale of fine chocolates and coffee in a German Village store, Reiser said.

Such peace and happiness was experienced by Amber Falter, a third-year in environment and natural resources management, when she first stumbled upon Winans while on the way to Schiller Park six months ago.

“It was just such a great experience since the first time, and (my friend and I have) been going back ever since,” Falter said. “Definitely the reason why we take the trips down there most of the time.”

Carly Lyman, a second-year in marketing, has experienced Winans as an employee of one of the stores in Piqua, Ohio, and as a consumer.

“I feel like the customers come in more for the experience — we know their names, we’ll talk to them about their day while we make their drinks, it’s just an overall great place to go get your coffee and chocolate,” Lyman said.

Lyman works part-time with Winans during school breaks and has been doing so for three years over school breaks.

Both Falter and Lyman said they find the distance from the coffee store in German Village to the main campus as one slight obstacle for chocolate and coffee lovers like them who do not always have access to a car. However, they have attempted in many ways to spread the word about their love for Winans.

“I always bring it home for my friends to try,” Lyman said. “I always get so excited when I can share the products of Winans with my friends who wouldn’t have the chance to try their products, and it makes me happy knowing that they love the products just as much as I love the products.”

Reiser has made the family business “very international yet very local” through years of backpacking and exploring coffee farms in places around the world like Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Winans is also working with a farm in Honduras and Nicaragua where cacao and coffee beans are planted in the same farm.

Armed with more than 20 years of experience in the chocolates and coffee business, after Reiser purchased Winans off the hands of his father-in-law, Max Winans, the family business is currently in its fourth generation. However, Winans was not always about chocolates and coffee. Established in the late 1800s, the first two generations of Winans were bakers, and it was only in the 1960s when Max Winans started dabbling into chocolates and candies.

Reiser was averaging four cups of cappuccinos per day prior to starting a coffee bar in their first Winans Candies store in Piqua. The coffee bar served as a need for both him and the customers. From there, Winans flourished to become the joint chocolates and coffee venture that it is known for today.

Today, Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees has multiple stores: eight in western Ohio and two in Central Ohio, in Dublin and German Village. It was always Winans’ goal to expand to a bigger city like Columbus.

“It was just right by Schiller Park, just this cute little space, so we literally in two days just rented the space because we knew the city so well,” Reiser said. “It was a quick decision, but a perfect match. German Village is an interesting neighborhood because it’s so established, so historic but it has young professionals, newlyweds, retired executives, retired academia from Ohio State and other universities, living all in the area, so they’re very outward people and they seek out quality places with a nice environment.”

Reiser and Laurie Winans hold talks and public cupping sessions regularly in-store and in other places. These informative sessions are aimed to show people how the couple examines the coffee when they’re buying it at the farm, how they roast it in the roaster, how they prepare it, and how to store it.

“That’s part of my quest now,” Reiser said. “To help customers from Ohio understand where this coffee came from, how many lives it has touched to get to us.”

Winans’ chocolates cost upwards of $10.95 for a gift box, while coffee cost upwards of $13.95 per 1 pound bag. The German Village location of Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffee is located at 897 S Third St.