In the quiet, rural community of Reeders, PA, tucked away from the bustle of the Poconos ski resorts and tourist attractions, Adam Hrywnak and Brian Polnasek enjoy an outdoorsy, off-the-grid life. Their property is home to Riday’s Gate, a trailhead on a path that leads to Big Pocono Trail Park, and they spend a lot of time hiking with their dog, Hugo. They love cooking and baking, and, until recently, you could’ve found them tinkering in their garage space, which they used as an art space and glass blowing studio.
However, the garage has recently undergone quite a change, and is now functioning as a small batch coffee roastery for their new company, Hrysek Farms. The couple, who are both from the area, have spent time living in other places but decided to settle down in NEPA and bought their property eight years ago. The idea to establish a coffee roastery has been brewing between them for a few years, and after a trip to Seattle in the summer of 2021, they came back full of ideas and energy to make it happen.
Now, Hyrsek Farms (the name is a hybrid of Adam and Brian’s last names) is getting ready to launch, with a line of four different coffee roasts, each with ample tasting notes and background info about the provenance and origins of the beans. The coffees are available for purchase online as well as wholesale, which hopefully means their coffees will become available at cafes, restaurants and shops in the area soon.
We caught up with Hrywnak to learn more about the inspiration behind Hyrsek Farms and to find out what is in store for this brand-new PA coffee startup!
PA Eats: Can you tell us more about why you decided to start a coffee company?
Adam Hrywnak: Brian and I both have a background in food and beverage in the hospitality industry. Originally, I wanted to open a cafe and a record store. But then I spent some time on a road trip to Seattle, and got to taste a lot of coffee in a lot of different regions. In Seattle, I got to see what different cafes were doing. The more research I did, it seemed like the coffee shops that are most successful roast their own beans and then launch a storefront after the fact. That business model seemed to make the most sense, so I built the concept around that.
How did you learn to roast coffee?
After I left Seattle, I bought as many books as I possibly could and started reading. I researched online about different beans and how they’re sourced, about different origins and what that has to do with the roasting process. I started ordering beans and playing with them. There was a lot of trial and error, and drinking some really bad coffee that I made. We found a pretty large-scale roaster for sale nearby, and we had a nice-sized garage space that we were able to convert into a roastery here on our land.
Our roaster can do about 10 pounds at once. You can get roasters that can do 100 pounds at once, but we’re going for a more small-batch scale. Learning has been exciting! It’s a science, it really is, and there are so many variables.
Hrysek Farms is launching with four different kinds of coffee. How did you choose which ones would become your core offerings?
I basically found all of the coffee importers on the East Coast and created accounts with them. I bought samples, then bought some large-scale bags and roasted them. After awhile, I found the ones I loved and wanted to put out into the world. They are each different and unique in their own right. The Colombian is a great cup of coffee to start the day with, and we do a medium and dark roast of that. The Ethiopian is fruity and juicy with exotic fruits, and it’s a light roast, so it’ll have an extra caffeine boost. And there’s the Papua New Guinea, which has a cinnamon flavor.
We wanted to have something for everybody, whether you want to experiment, or if you just want your classic cup of coffee. Our main mission is to give people a moment of joy when they drink our coffee.
Did your own experiences or understanding of coffee change through this learning process?
Through this journey, we’ve learned a lot about coffee. I think both of us had a strong misconception about what we liked. We always steered toward generically dark coffees, but as we sampled and tasted lighter roasts, we’ve kind of learned that dark roast coffee isn’t really our bag. I think we can educate other people to potentially like other kinds of coffees and break away from their habitual thinking.
Those over-roasted beans aren’t really coffee in its prime. That’s why we leaned toward selling online and in stores, it’s for the freshness of coffee. By the time you buy coffee roasted by a larger company, it’s been shipped and sat on shelves for awhile, and it loses its freshness.
There are a lot of coffee companies in Pennsylvania. How do you see yourselves standing out?
We’re in the Poconos, and the third wave of coffee hasn’t really taken hold here yet. Up here, there aren’t a lot of roasters at all. There’s room in the market, and we’re going to be placing ads, setting up at our local farmers market and doing pop-ups with some local retailers.
The Hrysek Farms brand is built around being a local roaster, and the logo and everything reflects that we’re very outdoorsy people. We wanted the brand to fit the mountains, and the packaging is completely recyclable and compostable because we wanted to create something that will leave a minimal impact on the planet. We want to be part of the change. It’s just the right thing to do at this point.
- Photos: Courtesy of Hrysek Farms