The Pilot's Blog

The Ultimate Roasterie Gift Guide for Coffee Lovers

Like it or not, the holidays are officially here. And with it comes the overwhelming joy and burden of finding the perfect gift for every person on your list. We’re here to make it a little less painful by compiling all our go-to coffee gifts…and let’s be honest, everyone loves the gift of coffee.

Roasterie Gift Sets

Our Roasterie curated gift sets are thoughtfully constructed to be an easy one-stop-gift shop to make your holiday shopping a little easier. Our gift guide ranges from gifts for the average coffee-drinker to the “coffee runs through my veins” coffee-fanatic. Gift wrap included with all. See the gift sets perfect for coffee lovers below.

Cup of Cheer $25

Cup of Cheer_small

A festive gift for everyone on your list. Includes a white Roasterie ceramic campfire mug and 12 oz. bag of our Holiday Blend.

 

Chemex® Starter Set $75

Chemex Starter Set_disassembled_medium

Everything a coffee lover needs to brew a delicious, perfectly crafted cup. This set includes a Six Cup Classic Chemex®, Chemex® Bonded Filters and a 12 oz. bag of Kansas City Blend.

 

Roasterie Favorites $50

The Roasterie's Favorites_open_medium The Roasterie's Favorites_medium

The world’s best coffee and the storage to keep it fresh. Featuring our super popular Roasterie Airscape® Canister and a 12 oz. bag of Kansas City Blend.

 

KC Lovers Sampler $58

KC Lover_lifestyle_small

The perfect sampling from the greatest city. This gift is perfect for the KC fanatic or BBQ lover in your life. Including a thoughtful collection of Fine Vines Artisanal Ketchup, Roasterie Coffee BBQ Sauce, Super Tuscan Coffee BBQ Rub, Andre’s Confiserie Suisse Caramels and a 12 oz. bag of Kansas City Blend.

 

Coffee for Two $45

Coffee For Two_open_medium Coffee for Two_box_medium

The go-to gift for coffee loving couples. You can even gift it to your bestie – because nothing beats sharing a cup with someone you love during the holidays. Featuring two limited edition red ceramic campfire mugs and a 12 oz. bag of Holiday Blend.

 

French Press Starter Set $50

French Press Starter Set_disassembled_medium

At home or at your desk, everything you need to brew a delicious cup. This set includes a 3-cup glass French press and 12 oz. bag of Kansas City Blend.

 

Other Giftables

Hot/Cold Tumbler with Magnetic Lid $30  

Tumbler

For the on-the-go coffee drinker. A KC branded 16 oz. tumbler with super smart magnetic technology to make sure you never lose your tumbler lid again.

 

Baratza Encore Grinder $145 

The perfect addition to any coffee lover’s toolkit. The Encore is considered the go-to grinder for home use by coffee experts. With 40 different grind settings, the Encore is able to give a great grind for drip/manual brewing and fine enough for the perfect espresso.

 

Cold Brew Necessities

For the person who drinks their weight in cold brew. Gift them the necessities for easy at home cold brewing. It’s as simple as the correct brewer and a bag of coffee!

Toddy Home Brewing Kit $41

The simplest way to brew cold brew. The Toddy Cold Brew System extracts the coffee bean’s delicious flavor and eliminates much of the acidity, producing a bold, super-smooth coffee that can be served one cup at a time.

Pair the Toddy Home Brewing Kit with our Cold Brew Blend $13.78 for the full set!

  

Costa Rica Geisha $45

geisha2

For the adventurous coffee drinker. Geisha coffees are rare and difficult to find, give them the gift of a special coffee they’ve never tried before.

 

Roasterie Tea towel $7 

TeaTowel

An easy Kansas City themed stocking stuffer.

 

The Roasterie Diner Mugs $8.99

DinerMug

A fantastic addition to every coffee lover’s cabinet. Made with dense porcelain for form and function, our diner mugs will keep your coffee piping hot. Available in both black and white.

 

The Roasterie Pocket Tee $30 

PocketTee

An incredibly soft Kansas City and Roasterie themed pocket tee hand-printed right here in KC.

 

All products listed are available for purchase online and at select cafes. Visit our KC Marketplace at our Factory Café to explore these and more gift options.

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The World’s Rarest Coffee – The Geisha

Arguably the most prized and storied varietal in the specialty coffee industry, the Geisha name carries with it unrivaled clout compared to other varietals.

What is Geisha Coffee?

Geisha is an heirloom varietal with historical roots in Ethiopia, although its modern discovery wasn’t until 2004 when the judging panel (including our own Danny O’Neill) for the Panama Cup of Excellence competition discovered by the unique varietal. The coffee in the competition, presented by Hacienda La Esmerelda, blew the esteemed panel of judges away as it tasted more unique than any coffee they’d ever had. Continue reading

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The 5 Steps to Today’s Perfect Cup of Coffee

Perfection is not a word to be used lightly, or possibly at all, when it comes to life. Or even coffee.

After all, one person’s definition of “perfect” might be another’s “meh.”

If there’s one thing we’ve learned at The Roasterie since starting the company in 1993, it’s that caffeinated bliss is always evolving. What’s in your cup today may be better than yesterday and what you have to look forward to tomorrow will undoubtedly evolve a step or two further.

Consider this brief coffee history lesson—best digested with your favorite cup of coffee. Back in the late 1700s, during a tumultuous time in American history, the Continental Congress named coffee as the national drink and the mere act of sipping a cup of coffee was considered a patriotic act to protest excessive tea taxes imposed by King George III. In that century long ago, coffee was a symbol promoting the spirit of a young nation taking bold steps toward building a democracy. And you can bet that the coffee our forefathers consumed while hotly debating politics and business wasn’t nearly as good as what we enjoy in the 21st century.

The quality of the ancient coffee bean, roasting techniques and even making an excellent cup have advanced to heights probably never imagined by the folks gathering in colonial coffee houses.
Which brings us to brewing a cup of coffee that will, if you follow the steps precisely, produce the coveted morning cup.

Take the extra effort to follow these guidelines and we guarantee the results will be today’s perfectly delicious cup of coffee. Who knows what tomorrow may bring? Below are what we hold as the Big 5 of coffee brewing; the main variables to consider, control and adjust to maximize your brewing and tasting experience. Continue reading

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Coffee Storage Tips: Keep Your Beans Fresher, Longer

Can coffee go bad?

Yes—even the best coffee will stale and degrade in quality if steps aren’t taken to store it properly.

Can coffee go bad is one of the most frequent questions guests ask us on The Roasterie Factory tours. And it’s a very good question because the four biggest culprits that can compromise the quality and taste of coffee are oxygen, light, moisture, and heat. Learn more about what makes coffee go bad here.

After roasting, the beans are weighed and placed in The Roasterie’s specially designed foil bags which offer protection from oxygen, light, moisture, and heat; the bags are then nitrogen flushed and heat sealed to displace any oxygen from the bag. Continue reading

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Last Food Truck Brunch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

THE ROASTERIE HOSTS FINAL COMMUNITY FOOD TRUCK BRUNCH OF SEASON 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. OCT. 22 WITH ALL-MINI CAR SHOW

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Nearly 60 Mini Coopers will be showcased at premier coffee roaster’s popular

community food and coffee event #undertheplane.

 WHO: The Roasterie Air-Roasted Coffee

WHAT: Food Truck Brunch Sunday

WHEN: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017  

ALL-MINI CAR SHOW: Free

WHERE: Parking lot across from The Roasterie Factory, 1204 W. 27th St., Kansas City, MO 64108

COST:  Free admission and food, beverages and merchandise available for purchase.

TOURS: 10:30 a.m./12:30 p.m. Stroller-friendly. $5, includes Roasterie souvenir glass.


WHY:  
Coffee and Coopers will be showcased at The Roasterie’s final family- and dog-friendly community Food Truck Brunch of the season this Sunday, with nearly 60 MINI Coopers—including a 1969 Classic Mini Cooper truck and a two-week-old 2018 MINI Cooper—expected to line up for attendees to enjoy. The Roasterie is partnering with the KC Mini Enthusiasts club for the second year, hosting the group’s All-MINI Car Show.

 

“This is one of the most fun Food Truck Brunches of the year,” says The Roasterie founder and airplane and car enthusiast Danny O’Neill. “There’s something about a MINI Cooper that brings out the kid in all of us, and this group of car lovers is over-the-top with their love of miniature automobiles. We’re looking forward to another Sunday of camaraderie, food and coffee and, as we close out our second year of Food Truck Brunches, thank the community for their awesome support of what makes Kansas City great—food and coffee.”

 

Kansas City’s premier coffee purveyor started its monthly April – October family- and dog-friendly community Food Truck Brunch series in 2016 and crowds flock to experience some of the area’s best food trucks and unique events like the All-MINI Car Show.

 

“This is a super-fun event for us,” says Johnna Perry, MINI enthusiast and car show organizer. “Being hosted by The Roasterie, with our cars parked under the massive DC-3 airplane, and having the city’s best coffee and food available while enjoying the artistry of the MINI Cooper makes for Sunday ‘Funday’ indeed.”

THE ROASTERIE HOSTS FINAL COMMUNITY FOOD TRUCK BRUNCH OF SEASON 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. OCT. 22 WITH ALL-MINI CAR SHOW

In addition to the All-MINI Car Show, Food Truck Brunch attendees can enjoy treats from some of Kansas City’s best food trucks, including Tito’s BBQ, KC Pinoy, American Fusion and Ash and Bleu.  Kansas City vendors will include The Beachery and  DoorWayClothing. The Kansas City Public Library will be on hand to give away books and Clear 10 Vodka will sample Dizzy Three. A DJ will provide musical entertainment.  Guests can purchase The Roasterie’s new canned Cold Brew and Nitro Cold Brew and other coffee drinks, including The Roasterie’s popular seasonal Autumn Harvest Blend.

The Roasterie specializes in sourcing, roasting and selling small batch, premium coffee from farms and co-ops around the globe. For more information on The Roasterie’s café locations and complete line of coffees, teas and home-brewing equipment, visit theroasterie.com or call 816-931-4000.

 About The Roasterie Air-Roasted Coffee

The Roasterie Air-Roasted Coffee has served only the best coffee for the past 20-plus years sourced from countries with the world’s richest resources for harvesting exceptional beans. Founder Danny O’Neill air-roasted his first batch of beans from the basement of his Kansas City, Missouri, home in the Brookside neighborhood in November 1993—and The Roasterie was born. O’Neill opened The Roasterie’s first official production facility in July 1994 at 1519 Cherry Street in Kansas City, Missouri. In December 1995, The Roasterie relocated to 2601 Madison Street in Kansas City to accommodate a growing demand for its coffee. Today The Roasterie’s production takes place at 1204 West 27th Street in Kansas City. On September 11, 2012, the production facility was crowned with a historic DC-3 aircraft, a symbol of exploration, Kansas City’s strong aviation history, the American spirit and the adventure of The Roasterie. A month later, in October 2012, the production facility unveiled the company’s third Roasterie Cafe. In addition to its plant café, The Roasterie operates cafés in Kansas City, Missouri at 6223 Brookside Boulevard (Brookside) 1828 Walnut, Suite 201 in the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District (Corrigan Station) and The Roasterie Drive-Thru at 2663 Southwest Boulevard. Kansas cafés include 4511 119th Street  (Leawood, Town Center Crossing) and 2250 W. 47th Pl. in Westwood (Woodside Village). The Roasterie is proud to foster lasting business relationships, resulting in more than 600 businesses, grocery stores, restaurants, colleges and universities choosing The Roasterie for its coffee, iced and hot teas, and distribution services for more than 20 years. For more information about The Roasterie, its free production facility tours, or to purchase The Roasterie coffee and products visit theroasterie.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Believe in the magic of Brookside local

For nearly 100 years, Brookside has been about local—shops with unique local flavor, owned by local merchants and proprietors, where all the money stays in Brookside and gets reinvested into Brookside.

It’s a quaint, charming place—say old-fashioned, I’ll take that. Because on the periphery of Brookside, many neighborhoods have been swallowed up by the big-box mentality and national and international chains and have lost some of their special luster and appeal and along with that ambience, a large chunk of their economic power.

If you saw the news or spent a lot of time with your social media feed this weekend, you might have heard or read that an international coffee chain wants to come into Brookside. It’s important to note it’s not The Roasterie’s landlord—First Washington knows how special Kansas City is and how that positive attitude spills into and impacts neighborhoods like Brookside, in particular. Before First Washington, it was the Cosentino family—a truly class act that was the epitome of local. Although they probably could have sold us out to a national entity and tripled their revenue, they didn’t. And wouldn’t have, in a million years. First Washington “gets it”—Cosentino’s made sure of that—the absolute importance of buying and shopping local. They are committed to keeping the north side of 63rd St. special.

This isn’t about another coffee shop in Brookside and weighing the competition—there are at least seven or eight locally owned and operated coffee shops within walking distance from The Roasterie. They’re great neighbors, often working alongside us to donate to dozens of local causes. They march in our annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and have kids who play soccer in Brookside and are dedicated, like we are, to keeping the fabric of this beloved Kansas City neighborhood special.

This is about maintaining our local integrity, spirit and determination.

Another Kansas City-special neighborhood up the street from us, Westport, chose to stay local when a chain swooped in and started serving coffee not far from a locally owned coffee shop. “Not in my neighborhood” was the message from the people who live, work and shop in Westport. It’s my hope that our devoted customers—of Brookside, The Roasterie and all the other awesome locally owned shops—will send that same message and opt to stay local.

The Brookside Shopping District has thrived for generations with local businesses that make it a signature destination for Kansas City residents and visitors alike. The Roasterie has been fortunate to be part of the vibrant neighborhood since 2005. As one of those local business owners, I’m confident that the loyal support all of us enjoy and appreciate will keep Brookside a distinctive collection of locally owned and operated shops and businesses.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued patronage and, especially, for the belief in the magic of local.

Danny O’Neill

Founder

The Roasterie

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Cold Brew Coffees in a Can

Cold Brew! You’ve probably noticed, but we’re absolutely rabid for this stuff. More caffeine, less acidity and all-natural to boot? No brainer. As we slowly convert everyone in the city to our canned goodness, learn why we love it!

We have had Nitro Cold Brew in our cafes for A little over a year now. The cold brew goes in the keg, comes out the tap, and as it does so it’s infused with Nitrogen gas. While Nitro has been bubbling around the coffee industry for a handful of years now, it’s still brand new in the scope of coffee (history). After seeing it take hold, it’s safe to say that this trailblazing innovation is here to stay. Nitro has quickly become one of our hallmarks. And that’s why we had to send it home with you.

Nitro and Cold Brew

Roasterie Cold Brew and Nitro in Cooler

From the beginning we’ve always wanted you to take us home. Well, our beans, that is… We love offering spaces and cafes to work, meet, play, chat, interview and be apart of our town. But we also love earning the privilege of being apart of your daily ritual. A right earned hopefully more by deliciousness than anything, but we’re happy as long as you’re enjoying the fruits of our passion. However we can help. If customers are enjoying our beans at home, how could they enjoy our cold brew at home?

With all of this newfangled, exciting Cold Brew, we kept thinking about people who love it but don’t live near our cafes. People on the road. People going camping or those just wanting the autonomy of drinking our product without needing to stop by one of our cafes. And that’s when the canning line came about.

The canning line was a new opportunity for us to learn and grow. Every time we try something new, it’s a chance for us to not become stale. As much as possible, we try to keep ourselves on our own toes. And journeying through a new endeavor, like the canning line, is a perfect opportunity. Not only were we desperate to get our cold brew in your hands in the most convenient form possible, it’s a chance to develop our skills. Learning the machine, creating positions and adjusting our production for a new line of coffee was the fun part.

Nitro Cold Brew cans before filling

Empty Nitro cans and the canning line

We had to overhaul the process with which we made cold brew. The canning line was a massive purchase and a bold move, so it makes sense that changing the way we run a few things was necessary. While we needed to change and we were hoping to revolutionize cold brew production, we never make any adjustments in our process without the due testing and experimenting. Flavor is always king at The Roasterie. Anything from the grind size in our cafes or the exact amount of time we steep our cold brew–and even the decision to steep versus other methods–are all the product of rigorous trial and error.

This process was manifest in our transition from cold brew cans to nitro cans. Because nitro is made almost identically to Guinness, that nitrogen content necessitated us learning how to can with the widget in the bottom. The widget is a plastic device that stores additional nitrogen gas until the tab is popped and ultimately helps give Nitro that vicious head of foam and the creamy texture and cascade. While it’s awesome to slurp right from the can, give it a very hard pour into a glass and be entranced by the cacophony of textures and the fireworks of bubbles.

Nitro in a glass

Nitro Cold Brew in a tulip glass at The Roasterie Factory Cafe

Cold Brew Cans have become quite popular, but perhaps not more than with hospital staff in the area. For the graveyard shift workers the cans have been a tremendous help. The higher caffeine content is appreciated in the long, late hours of the night. Patients love them, too, and are able to order a can right to their room. Not to mention, that in a hospital the concerns of health are paramount, and the lack of any preservatives, sugars, carbs, calories or artificial flavorings make the cans a truly guilt-free treat.

Cans are also terribly convenient. They do need to be refrigerated, but leaving them in an ice-chest will do the trick. Grab a different kind of six-pack for the next camping trip you take. Heading to the lake? Throw a few in the cooler and forget about all the extra baggage and hassle of bringing a coffee brewing system to the campsite. The beauty of the can is that it’s ready the second you pop the tab, and not a second later.

Our Nitro only comes in 12 oz cans, but the cold brew is made in 12 oz and 8 oz sizes. If you’re sensitive to caffeine or just need a little bit of a pick-me-up, the 8 oz cans are a great choice. They’re little, but they’re powerful. Cold brew is taking the coffee world by storm, and at least in Kansas City, we’re doing our best to lead the charge.

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Third Wave Coffee

Third wave coffee is (arguably) the most recent wave in coffee history. While the first wave made coffee ubiquitous across all nations, and second wave changed the way Americans consumed coffee, third wave has had as big of an impact. Third wave coffee can be boiled down to one paramount facet—the coffee itself. The goal became not to customize taste or sell as much as possible, but to extract and reveal as much flavor as possible out of a single cup of black coffee.

Black Coffee

20th Anniversary Mug with black coffee.

As a result, coffee got real, real nerdy. People began to (rightfully) scrutinize every aspect of coffee from seed to mug in order to learn what makes a fantastic coffee. Different regions of the world have unique flavor profiles, and even coffees from opposite ends of the same country may have a marked difference in taste. Similarly, coffee connoisseurs want to know how the coffee was processed—or, how the seed of the coffee cherry (commonly called the bean) is removed from the fruit. Allowing the fruit to dry around the seed will yield a sweeter, fruitier cup than a washed coffee that has the fruit removed from the very beginning. These third wave coffee shops could feasibly roast and sell beans sourced from small growing operations that could never sustain the business of larger giants.

Furthermore, the desire for transparency stems from the fact that coffee is such a labor intensive crop. There is a long history of exploitation and forced labor in coffee and sometimes buying from third world nations can lead to inhumane working conditions. The market soon demanded transparency and information out of their coffee companies. Such information helped discerning customers understand what flavors to expect from a coffee but also ensured that workers in these other countries were receiving a fair wage for their efforts.

A scenic vista of coffee farmlands

In order to differentiate themselves from the giants of Caribou and Starbucks, early third wave coffee shops focused on being small, unique and superb. Everything from the flavor of the drinks to the aesthetic of a café became a challenging ground for identity. Not only is the atmosphere of a third wave coffee shop unlike anything so commercialized, but it also encourages local shopping. Coffee shops became a source of home town pride, with a sense of protectiveness—as their beloved coffee house is only available in one specific town. That sense of pride is only furthered as third wave shops begin to express opinions about coffee through coffee. With this most recent wave, every variable of coffee making becomes an avenue to express a philosophy about how the coffee should be roasted, ground and brewed. Aside from being the favorite haunt of hip teenagers and telecommuters, third wave coffee shops may live, breath and bleed a particular philosophy about how to prepare coffee—and their customers as well.

The dynamic between 3rd wave shops and their public is more flexible than larger, 2nd wave operations. Coffee in general was stepping away from a formulaic approach and entering a more experimental phase. In some ways this perspective shift focused more on the journey than the destination. With so many variables in the preparation of coffee, each was viewed as a tributary for exploration and discovery. Vertical integration rose as a handful of coffee companies started buying machinery in order to roast in-house—completely transforming the definition of ‘fresh’ coffee.

Plant Cafe

Southwest Boulevard Plant Cafe.

Certainly the sheer freshness of roasted-that-morning coffee made a difference, but truly, many of these coffee companies are looking for more control. More capacity for learning, experimentation and ultimately expression. Second wave coffee almost held a ‘good enough’ attitude towards making delicious drinks—once a drink tasted right, the goal was then to rinse and repeat that same process. Third wave is closer to gourmet dining: few 3 Star Michelin Chefs will tell you they’ve reached their pinnacle. There are always more techniques to master, more experiments to run, more influences or knowledge to obtain. Like athletes, artists or musicians, one can always improve on something about coffee.

There’s always room for improvement, and moreover, room for innovation as well. We’ve written before about recent innovations in the coffee industry, but it’s worth mentioning again as those inventions are driven by the spirit of third wave coffee. With an unwavering focus on the taste of coffee sans syrups and milks, the only route for exploration came from how to brew the coffee itself. Cold brew looks at lessening acidity via heat-less extraction methods. Pour overs use a drip-brewing method but remove all automation for unparalleled control and precision. Either via principles of flavor extraction or via skill and finesse, these innovations let the beans’ flavors stand alone.

Some argue that we are currently in the midst of the fourth wave of coffee. Whether that’s true, what the fourth wave will look like, what attributes will change the industry as we know it—all of those discussions are open to debate. But, as of now third wave coffee has borrowed from the wine industry, the farm to table movement and a fiendish craving for information. And, above all else, a love for that delectable black brew is necessary.

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Second Wave Coffee

The first wave of coffee made it available to people of all classes, all across the world. Then, suddenly, the gatekeepers to the land of coffee changed. The old guard was a waitress named ‘Flo’ who wandered diners with a glass Bunn pot of coffee offering to “top you off, there, hon.” In the first wave of coffee, marketing, packaging and agricultural practices brought coffee to the customer. Some might say they killed coffee’s mystique—instead of a sumptuous brew from a foreign land with a curious cognitive effect, it became an advertising jingle.

With second wave coffee, the new guard was defined by people with skills, training, and oftentimes, angst. (That last attribute is and always will be a fertile bed for artistry.) These new gatekeepers stood behind a bar stocked with impressively loud and complicated machinery. In that regard, coffee regained some of its lost enigmatic qualities. Quite literally, the average customer had to approach coffee again. The customer had to walk up to the bar and claim the beverage they ordered. Both within the café itself and in the world at large, second wave coffee flipped the tables of deliverance. First wave took coffee to every kitchen but second wave brought everyone back out into the world. You had to go to the coffee.

The change from delivery to expedition is a result of the change within coffee culture and American culture, too. Coffee became a reason to go out—much like the effect on Western Europe in the 1800’s, America realized that aesthetics and atmosphere can be reason enough leave one’s home. The combination of second wave drinks that were unattainable at home and the rise of cafés becoming cool spots to hang out led to another defining characteristic of second wave of coffee. We, as a nation, realized that catching up with old friends, dates and even job interviews could be conducted in the comforts of a coffee shop. Students could study for long periods of time in chic spots that also fueled their grades.

What perhaps most notably marks the second wave, though, is how it spread and homogenized. The foremost example of a second wave coffee shop is Starbucks. At one point in their history the Jittery Green Giant was opening a new café every business day. Branding combined with franchising made a priority out of guaranteeing a consistent experience across every Starbucks worldwide. A Caramel Macchiato in Lewiston, Maine, needed to taste almost identical to a Caramel Macchiato in Heidelberg, Germany. Though it is undeniably a good business model (their earnings speak for themselves) it has drawn them away from their roots of serving freshly roasted coffee beans. Those roots shrank over time, and after a $3.8 million takeover, Starbucks began brewing lattes and selling pre-ground coffee. These origins are arguably more 3rd wave than second, in the sense that the original focus was on quality as opposed to consistent quantity. Be it the demands of the world at the time, a brilliant example of marketing or the convenience of global franchising, Starbucks took off.

Another change with second wave coffee was the sheer level of customization that these shops afforded. In the 1960’s, if you weren’t a fan of the sometimes bitter taste or earthy tones inherent to many coffees, you simply avoided it or perhaps drank tea. By the late 90’s, you had an arsenal of milks, flavors, and syrups at your disposal. Which fit right into the American ‘Have it your way’ economy. And in terms of branding, this capacity for personalization only instilled more fondness for particular locations. People started to develop recipes for concoctions that were their drinks.  Not only did the market widen with new coffee converts, but it also instilled a sense of artistry. One wasn’t simply ordering a very large coffee with milk and artificial syrups, one was ordering with jargon and foreign phrases.

This realization, that coffee is much deeper than it might seem borrowed some from the wine industry. In the midst of the second wave of coffee consumers and baristas alike began paying attention to origins of coffee beans, growing conditions and methodology. Methodology in general became a factor as the populace came to understand all the elements of a great coffee. Everything from the steaming of the milk, to the pulling of the shots to the art in the latte itself became noticeable. And somewhere in the second-and-a-half wave of coffee, true aficionados would base their patronage on these elements or skill sets.

This new iteration of a very old drink transformed how many areas of the globe viewed coffee. Rescued from the mundane rituals of Monday morning, evolving public social spaces and even forging a new avenue for a self-expression—second wave coffee turned the coffee world on its head. As peoples’ tastes turned to more complicated drinks, those tastes brought them out of their own kitchen and into the coffee shop. Second wave coffee is still alive and well, though the past 8-10 years have given rise to the reactionary third wave.

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First Wave Coffee

When it comes to the culture surrounding coffee and café history, the term ‘wave’ has been coined and used heavily. First, second and third wave coffee is defined by distinct characteristics and driving forces of the marketplace. This week we’ll dive in to First Wave Coffee, and the next waves we’ll discuss in successive weeks following. Without further adieu, let’s dive into the advent of coffee’s ascension to king of the cups.

While the exact date first wave coffee began is debatable, it lies somewhere in the 1800’s. After the Dutch proliferated coffee trees throughout the world in the 17th century, much of Western Europe took after the coffee craze. As we discussed last week, cafes and the café culture shook European societal norms to their roots. Suddenly, people of all classes, ages and professions were intermingling in a common place over a hot cup. The change in society coupled with a legitimate fondness for the brew drove coffee production to a monumental scale in a short amount of time.Nescafé_tin_Classic

Will H. Bovee changed the coffee industry in America, and the world, by selling pre-roasted ground coffee in tin cans. At the time, the 1850’s, coffee drinkers had to buy green beans, roast and grind the coffee themselves before having a cup. Taking away two arduous and lengthy steps in making coffee helped it become more accessible and easy to brew.

Moving into the 20th century, first coffee transitioned from an exotic and stimulating drink to a staple in every modern household’s morning. Far from taking place overnight, this shift in perception and consumption took several steps. Some of the first steps involved were innovations like vacuum sealing and instant coffee. Both furthered the viral spread of the brew. Combined with the prohibition of the 1920’s, coffee was on a meteoric rise.

Vacuum sealing kept coffee fresher for longer, allowing distribution from large coffee companies to grow. The method was developed by Hills Bros. Coffee and has become a 736px-Washington_Coffee_New_York_Tribunestaple for any perishable goods shipping. Another hallmark of first wave coffee was instant coffee. Invented by Japanese-American Satori Kato dehydrated coffee and made it soluble in water. Instant coffee’s ease of use and caffeine buzz made it indispensible as a battlefield ration of WWI, and at home the marketplace was dominated by novelty and convenience. This was the era of frozen dinners and electric razors—anything that could be ‘modernized’ was. Instant coffee became such a staple that, according to an article on craftbeverages.com, up to one third of coffee being imported in to the US at the time was being turned into instant coffee. (This trend took a notable nosedive after the 80’s, but we’ll talk more about that next week.)
While the initial reaction to coffee in Europe was marked and sweeping, America’s adoption of the beverage was greatly boosted by the aide of advertising agencies and two major coffee giants: Folgers and Maxwell House. Folgers had several notable advertisements such as their classic slogan “the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup;” however, Maxwell House was 675px-Maxwell_house_coffee_newspaper_ad_1921the dominant advertiser of the era. In 1924 their advertising budget was $276,894. Adjusted for modern inflation rates, their budget was $809,353. The very next year, in a study of Consumer Goods, Maxwell House was cited as the most well-known coffee brand in the US.

Perhaps the final stage in first wave coffee was the introduction of the Mr. Coffee automatic drip brewer. Before the automatic drip brewer was invented in Germany in 1954, and then made popular with the Mr. Coffee version in the 1970’s the stovetop percolator was coffee making method de jour.

These combined facets of high-cost branding; at home drip machines and instant coffee, combined with an emphasis on ease & affordability all signal the hallmarks of first wave coffee. From the initial exposure to such a foreign concoction in Paris to entire cul-de-sacs waking up with Folgers in their cups, first wave coffee stretches the longest period of time. While it certainly established coffee as a necessity to modern day living, it is criticized for sacrificing flavor and transparency for a cheap brew. Today we’ve come a long way by having direct, handshake relationships with individual farmers and keeping the taste of our coffee at the highest priority. Though many of the practices of first wave coffee run contrary to what we strive to be as a coffee company, we have to admit that without first wave coffee it’s impossible to know if we’d still be around. All we can say is that now we’ve found a better way.

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