When Katherine Morris opened Cherry Coffee in 2021, she always envisioned roasting her own coffee served at her shop on 1121 W. Magnolia Ave. in Fort Worth. 

The idea brewed for two years before coming to fruition.

Morris recently acquired Dallas-based Novel Coffee Roasters and is moving it to Fort Worth’s Foundry District, north of West 7th Street. Novel distributes to coffee shops across North Texas, including Roots CoffeeHouse. Morris views the acquisition as a step forward in diversifying the roasting business.

“There’s really great representation at the cafe level. But once you get into some more vertical integrations with roasting, and equipment, the representation of women is just not there,” Morris said. “So I’ve always kind of had that itch to do that, and to be one of those representatives in the industry.”

Morris did not disclose details of the acquisition, including how much money the company sold for. She considers Novel a “top tier” roastery in North Texas, which has her favorite espresso blend. 

“It’s a really clean profile … Novel really focuses on clean and just full-bodied coffee profiles, which is really attractive,” Morris said. “You know what you’re going to get when you get a novel bean.”

Novel Coffee Roasters was founded in 2013 by Kevin Betts and Ryan Smith in Dallas. Betts, who is temporarily training and consulting Morris and her company, said the decision to sell the company was rooted in being in a different stage of life than when they started the business. Betts started the company with Smith when he was 25. 

At 35, Betts started thinking about the next steps to propel the business into its next stage of growth with his business partner. That’s when they were introduced to Morris, and the deal set into place.

“I’d been to Cherry before, and just sort of amazing hospitality and coffees,” Betts said. “So we felt really confident that she was going to be like that right person to take everything to the next stage.”

Under the ownership of Morris, she plans to keep the Novel brand of coffee blends, and work on blends for Cherry. She isn’t going to make any radical changes to the company, and wants to continue the legacy of the original owners, she said. One possible change is including more workshops and developing a barista training program open to everyone.

‘Our customers are in great hands’

Novel is made up of four employees. Marisa Zapata, who worked on Cherry Coffee’s menu development, is Novel’s new head roaster. Zapata, who has worked in the coffee business for seven years, is still learning the ropes of roasting under the guidance of Betts. Zapata met Betts when she first started in the business and feels a sense of responsibility to make him proud, she said. 

Marisa Zapata, head roaster at Novel Coffee Roasters, stands next to a roaster at the company’s production space in Fort Worth. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

She describes the roasting process as a cross between playing a video game and driving a very noisy, hot, car.

“You’re looking at the screen and you’re like looking at the time and you’re … literally, physically are adjusting the gas setting, so it feels like I’m driving a car,” Zapata said. 

Zapata has picked up roasting fast, Betts said. He describes roasting as a place where art and science meet — it is very data driven. He has about 17,000 roast logs from over the years while developing blend taste profiles. 

Fort Worth’s coffee scene has exploded in recent years, Betts said, and he feels hopeful about the trajectory of the business he helped to start with new ownership. 

“I think everything’s in really great hands,” Betts said. “I think our customers are in really great hands.”

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow him on Twitter at @sbodine120

Disclosure: Katherine Morris is the wife of Jonathan Morris, a member of Fort Worth Report’s Board of Directors. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Seth BodineBusiness Reporter

Seth Bodine is the business reporter for the Fort Worth Report. He previously covered agriculture and rural issues in Oklahoma for the public radio station, KOSU, as a Report for America corps member....