Many residents of Thetis Island are still suffering from withdrawal symptoms after the Pot of Gold Coffee Roasting Company closed in late April.
They lack the excellent customer service and camaraderie provided by Nan Beals in carrying out her duties, selling the coffee beans to supply customers. Beals, for her part, also misses the service she provided, but simply decided it was time to retire.
A final open house on Mother’s Day weekend allowed everyone to drop by and reminisce and see the eco-friendly machine that turns roaster smoke into steam.
The farewell open house was an emotional moment for many. People like Jeannine Caldbeck, Chief of the Thetis Island Volunteer Fire Department, appreciated all that Beals did as a loyal and loyal businessman.
“She’s been a fantastic long-time contributor to island events, kept the fire department stocked with coffee, is part of the fire department auxiliary who comes out to long-running stages to feed us and we cafe, and a great employer of premises for his business,” praised Caldbeck.
The stories Beals can tell after many years of great customer service, fantastic coffee, a few roaster fires, the loss of the co-founder – her husband – and countless pounds of fresh roasted beans donated to community events, without talk about a monthly supply of beans to volunteer firefighters.
“Nan Beals has kept the business going through thick and thin, employing locals and sending coffee to loyal customers for decades,” Caldbeck added. “My daughter was one of the children who used to color the Pot of Gold coffeepot emblem with a yellow crayon on the Thetis Island Quarterly newsletter in black and white, the only color in the publication. was about 30 years ago and kids were taking their pennies in chocolate covered coffee beans.
Beals is putting the business up for sale as she gets used to the idea of retirement life.
“We actually never served coffee drinks, we just sold the beans,” she explained. “We roasted the coffee in batches for mail order bi-weekly and then also sold it by the pound to islanders and summer visitors.”
Beals was born in Stockton, Calif., and Nan is her real name, not a nickname or grandmother reference.
“My mom liked the name Ann, my dad liked the name Nancy so they compromised,” Beals explained.
After leaving California, she moved to Carson City, Nevada and attended the University of Nevada, majoring in home economics and business.
Beals then returned to California in Fresno and went to work for the Raisin Advisory Board.
“There are a lot of agricultural commodity advisory boards in California,” she pointed out.
During her two years there, Nan met her future husband Gene Beals. This is when they got into the coffee roasting business and kept the roaster after the store went bankrupt.
“He had an active gourmet food store,” she said. “When the store closed, we moved it to an old farmhouse and roasted it for old customers.”
And that led the Beals to the Isle of Thetis in 1982.
“We immigrated,” Nan said. “It took nine months to get our immigration papers. We started roasting at the marina that summer.
The rest, as they say, is history. People filled out subscription-style orders to receive the coffee beans in the mail.
“It really started to work for us,” Beals said. “It was a recurring business.”
After renting for the first eight years, the Beals bought their own home in 1990. “It’s been a cottage industry since you work from your own home,” Nan explained.
Beals’ husband died in 2005. She maintained the business on her own after that, but now, at 74, “I’m ready to rest a bit,” Beals said.
“It’s been wonderful support, just phenomenal – so loyal,” she said. “The people of Thetis were instrumental in the spread of coffee.”
And Beals is grateful to the company’s wonderful employees. “Our great coffee roaster and three super ladies have accumulated almost 75 years of work here,” she said.
They always roasted fresh and to order and people liked that. And with 20 different varieties, “we had a lot of choices for people,” Beals said.
She admittedly feels uncomfortable shutting down, but admitted it was time for young people with fresh ideas and a youthful eagerness to take charge.
“I haven’t really said goodbye either, I have so much book work to catch up on,” Beals laughed. “It will be goodbye when I see the machines leaving the premises.
“It’s something that I identify with all my being. I think it was the perfect decision. I’m getting old, it’s time.