The Analytics Of Autumn: The 2019 Build-Outs Of Summer By The Numbers

By Analytics of Autumn, Beachcomber, Build-Outs Of Summer, Cafes, cartel coffee, curtis, Featured, Fetco, intelligentsia, K30, KB90, La Marzocco Linea, Mahlkonig EK43, Mazzer Major, modbar av, Nuova Simonelli Mythos, Peak, Pilot, Prototype, Slayer Steam, Synesso MVP Hydra, The Meteor, Virgin Islands Coffee

The Build-Outs of Summer Season Seven is officially behind us. But even still, the Thrill of the Build shines brightly in the rearview, reflecting a small glimmer of warmth as we head full steam into the colder months. And so too do we reflect upon all that transpired, crunching numbers and finding trends for the Analytics of Autumn, our yearly wrap-up of our summer series.

This is our fourth year of making competely-justified-but-not-at-all-justified statements about the state of specialty coffee as told by the Build-Outs of Summer. And while it’s ostensibly difficult to claim that 40 cafes who didn’t even exist until a few months ago represent the totality of a global industry, there is nonetheless a lot of truth to be gleaned from them. As we’ve stated previously, the Build-Outs of Summer is an opportunity for owners to give an unfiltered account of what they want their cafes to be, regardless of how well they are able to live up to the standard they are trying to achieve. These are the cafes at their most aspirational. We are given a direct line to the Platonic ideal of the specialty coffee shop in 2019; the Greek philosophers would be green with envy.

What we’ve found this year bolsters claims from previous years. It’s as if there’s a trend or something. So let’s take a deep dive into the numbers and see what we can glean from the 2019 Analytics of Autumn: A Brief Reprise For The Build-Outs Of Summer, Who Went Away, But For Very Good Seasons.

Who’s Building Out

We saw a total of 40 entries in the 2019 Build-Outs of Summer, but unlike previous seasons, this year’s participants came solely from North America (come on, Europe, Asia, and Central and South America, what gives?!). Only four—Beachcomber, Prototype, Pilot, and Virgin Islands Coffee—came from outside the continental United States. Entries this year have a fairly even geographical spread, with 16 shops in the East, 13 in the center part of the continent, and 11 in the West.

Whereas previous years have told the story of good coffee happening anywhere—which it can and still very much does—this year’s Build-Outs is all about the big cities, the established players continuing their coffee dominance. For every Albuquerque or Cranston, there’s a New York City or Houston; in fact, exactly half of the 40 entries this year came from top 20 US cities by population (this includes Toronto, whose population would put them in the top five were they an American city).

But despite the ever-so-slight western bent this year, the cities with the most entries into the Build-Outs of Summer this year are Los Angeles (again) with four and Austin with three. These two cities share a similar arc in their coffee scene’s evolution; both are places coffee brands want to be. Of the three Austin cafes featured, two—Cartel Coffee and The Meteor—are from already existing brands making a move into the Texas state capitol (to say nothing of Intelligentsia’s recent cafe opening in ATX).

The Roasting Boom

Following last year’s trend of everyone wanting to roast, it turns out everyone still wants to roast. 28 out of the 40 coffee companies featured this year, a whopping 70%, roast their own coffee. Using even the most lenient definition of “multi-roaster”—having more than one roaster at a given time—only four of the remaining 12 cafes could rightfully fall under that moniker, all of them coffee companies opening their first location.

While the rise of the roaster accompanied by the continued decline of the multi-roaster follows what we have seen coming over the past few seasons of Build-Outs, what’s new for this year exactly how these roasters are plotting their growth. The roasting ilk breaks down evenly between those opening their first cafe and those now with locations, plural, and of the 14 first-timers, eight have been operating as wholesale-only accounts long before finally deciding to open a storefront of their own. The overwhelming theme we are seeing this year is companies focusing on steady growth over ambitious expansion.

The Year In Gear

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the La Marzocco Linea tops the list as most used espresso machine for the Builders this year. 14 of the 37 cafes using espresso machines opted for the Linea, 10 more than the machines tied for second, the KB90 and the Modbar AV (both members of the LM family). Including Modbar cafes, a total 25 shops use some model of La Marzocco espresso machine. The Synesso MVP Hydra and Slayer Steam were the two most used non-LM machines with three and two, respectively.

And if you want some more not-at-all breaking news, the Mahlkönig EK43 is still everyone’s favorite grinder. 18 of the 53 total grinders named, a total of 34%, are EKs. Like with La Marzocco in the espresso machine category, the second most used grinders are also Mahlkönig products, the K30 and PEAK, both of which had seven. 64% of the grinders mentioned in the 2019 Build-Outs of Summer were made by Mahlkönig. The most used non-King of Grinders were the Nuova Simonelli Mythos (both One and Two) and the Mazzer Major, both with five.

Hand-brew coffee continues its steady decline for Build-Outs cafes. This is not to say pour-over coffee it losing favor, but actual manually brewed coffee may be going the way of the multi-roaster. Overall, 16 of the 27 shops that discussed their filter options (13 didn’t even mention anything; take that for what it’s worth) have some pour-over option on their menu, but only five make any mention of actual, brewed-by-hand coffee. In general, we found folks more eager to discuss which model of FETCO or Curtis batch brewer they were using than any particulars about pour-over brew methods.

What Does It All Mean?

If there’s one grand theme that prevailed in the 2019 Build-Outs of Summer, it is how close it hewed to what we saw in 2018. Cafe owners want their spaces to be approachable and community focused. Respondents would much rather talk about how they want to be inclusive and a place for all than they would about how they are chockablock with the freshest gear. As we saw last year—and can now say more conclusively—the gear arms race is over. At least for now.

How folks talk about their new projects seems to signify a shift in how cafes want to identify themselves as amongst the ranks of the specialty world. Folks used to signal their bona fides by talking about what gear they had or how many different roasters they would be bringing in; now being a specialty cafe by and large means having a more social focus. The shift makes sense, especially when you consider the current political environment much of the world currently finds itself in. It wasn’t but five or six years ago when you could walk into a shop, see a Linea, an EK, or five different roasters, and know that place was “legit”. Of course, those things don’t actually necessitate that the cafe was in fact any good, only that they were aware of this broadly nascent thing called “specialty coffee.” But with the democratization of information, specialty coffee’s secret handshake became the formula for those looking to “cash in” on the hot new trend (only to realize any cashing in would be purely figurative).

And as specialty coffee evolved, a rejection of the old schema became the new calling card. What’s old is new again. Whereas coffee shops once wanted to be science labs where you waxed academic about a beverage you’ve consumed everyday of your life but are just now truly tasting for the first time, coffee shops are returning to the hangout spots, the place where everybody knows your name and your drink order.

In 2019, it’s deeply uncool to only drink espresso or consume exclusively hand-brewed v60s of fresh crop Kenya AAs. What’s cool now is broadening the pool of specialty coffee drinkers. What’s cool is espousing the virtues of the peoples’ drinks. It’s expressing unabashed and unironic love for the best damn iced vanilla oat milk latte you’ve ever had. In 2019, specialty coffee has, in a lot of ways, gotten over itself.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

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Source: Coffee News

Build-Outs Of Summer: Littlefoot Coffee Roasters In Grandville, MI

By ALEX BURBO, Build-Outs Of Summer, Cafes, cup & spoon, Grandville, intelligentsia, Littlefoot Coffee Roasters, Maquina Coffee, Metric Coffee, michigan, North America, Places, probat, Rosie Quasarano, Staff Picks, USA

littlefoot coffee grandville michigan

It’s not everyday that a coffee brand up and moves their entire operation 200 miles into another state, on the other side of Lake Michigan no less. But that’s exactly what Littlefoot Coffee Roasters did. Now of Grandville, Michigan, owners Rosie Quasarano and Alex Burbo started Littlefoot in Chicago, renting roasting time at Metric Coffee, where Burbo was then employed. But after a few years, their plans to move back to their home state finally came to fruition.

We previously spoke with Burbo about Littlefoot as part of our nano-roaster feature series Going Somewhere Solo, where he discussed the brand’s long-term plans to move operations to Detroit. But at they often do, plans shift, and in this case, they shifted 165 miles east on I-96 to the Grand Rapids suburb Littlefoot now calls home. And now these new Grandvillians have a space of their own, so let’s pay them a visit, shall we.

The 2019 Build-Outs of Summer is presented by Pacific Barista SeriesnotNeutralKeepCup, and Mill City Roasters.

As told to Sprudge by Rosie Quasarano.

littlefoot coffee grandville michigan

For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?

We’re proud Michiganders, and our little but mighty operation is a reflection of our hard-working heritage. We source beans grown by exceptional people, which allows us to roast coffee that brews one great cup. Our rotating menu keeps things fresh and highlights the best of each season.

Our adventure started in Chicago in 2017 and it was our ultimate goal to bring Littlefoot to our home state. We made our way back the following year, and we consider it an honor to help fuel the people who make Michigan a truly special place to live.

littlefoot coffee grandville michigan

littlefoot coffee grandville michigan

Right now, our entire operation is a team of two!

ALEX BURBO, Director of Coffee

Alex has roasted coffee for some of the most respected brands in the industry. He spent eight years working for Intelligentsia where he became head roaster as well as a key part of the green sourcing team. Alex also proudly served as the head roaster for Metric Coffee. In his role in Roasting and Quality Control for these companies, he has worked alongside some of the most well-respected individuals in the industry, learning from every experience along the way.

ROSIE QUASARANO, Head of Marketing & Sales

Before launching full-time into Littlefoot, Rosie owned and operated Cup & Spoon, a successful coffee shop in Chicago’s Humboldt park neighborhood for five years. Combining her love of coffee, years of barista experience, and a decade of advertising knowledge, Rosie tirelessly works to perfect our product and service and brings a unique perspective to our wholesale partners as a fellow entrepreneur.

Can you tell us a bit about the new space?

We are setting up our wholesale operation in a beautiful warehouse space. We have double bays as well as second level capabilities for a tasting room/cupping lab and meeting space.

We have plans to introduce public cuppings, roasting tours, coffee education meet ups, and roasting apprenticeships.

What’s your approach to coffee?

Good, honest, approachable, and fun.

We work hard to source quality green and always ensure we are paying fair prices to the farmers.

Our Director of Coffee and master roaster Alex Burbo uses his decade of experience to roast profiles that highlight the best of a bean and its region.

Education is a big component of Littlefoot. Many coffee lovers have never been exposed to the roasting process or taken part in a cupping. We want to help change that. We want to mimic what a lot of breweries do and invite people in to get up close and personal with the process of coffee roasting.

littlefoot coffee grandville michigan

Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?

We are getting up and running on a vintage Probat. We acquired it from our friend Gabe Lucas from Maquina Coffee.

Our summer single origin lineup is strong.

Ecuadorian Finca Lugmapata that placed 8th in the Taza Dorada competition
Two amazing Peruvians—Aguaytadero and Flor de Selva
Ethiopian Natural—Aricha
And more

We also have our SUPERIOR cold brew, named after the coldest great lake. Down the line we would love to introduce a cold brew bottling operation in our space.

How is your project considering sustainability?

We plan to work with Consumers Energy Business program to outfit our warehouse space for peak energy efficiency.

littlefoot coffee grandville michigan

What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?

August 2019

Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?

Ryan Hoelting of RYN STUDIOS designed our logo, branding, and packaging
Tom Kilgore of NAI Wisinski of West Michigan helped tremendously with our build-out
Tim Van Noord of Colliers International helped us scout warehouse locations
Daniel Crosby of EQS arranged shipping of our roaster from PA to MI
West Michigan Garage Interiors helped refinish all of our warehouse concrete floors

Thank you!

Thank you so much!

Littlefoot Coffee Roasters is located at 3047 Broadway, Grandville. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Build-Outs Of Summer is an annual series on Sprudge. Live the thrill of the build all summer long in our Build-Outs feature hub.

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Source: Coffee News

There’s A Decaf-Only Micro-Roaster Boom Happening Right Now

By boston stoker, caffenation, Carol Blanchet, decaf, Dewired Coffee, Eric Blanchet, Industry, intelligentsia, Jamie Morganstern, Kait Brown, micro-roasters, Peter Andrews, Playground Roasters, Rob Berghmans, Sara Serino, Savorista Coffee, Staff Picks, Talking Crow Coffee Roasters

Are you a mod or a rocker? Eat lunch with the jocks or the burnouts? Team Edward or Team Jacob? Rest assured, one milieu in this modern era no longer demands that you choose socio-culturally defining sides: coffee. That is, whether you drink it with or without caffeine.

You see, in the last few years there has been a burgeoning of specialty coffee micro-roasteries that specialize in decaf. They use green beans decaffeinated by natural methods, and as much as their caff counterparts, prioritize flavor while maintaining the same high standards in sourcing and processing. Although the bigwigs in third wave include decafs in their collections (Intelligentsia offers a whopping four online), for this newest generation of roasteries, decaf is a starting point rather than an afterthought. The result is delicious, complex, and varied coffee that could well disarm the death-before-decaf set and lift the Lenten gloom of those who abstain for medical reasons. Some of these roasters were once regular regular coffee drinkers themselves, still are, and/or simply do not dichotomize the joy of a cup’s contents into caff and non-caff camps.

This capacity for coexistence is patently encapsulated in a tagline on the Talking Crow Coffee Roasters website: “He drinks regular—she needs decaf.” Those pronouns’ antecedents are Eric and Carol Blanchet, who established their Sultan, Washington-based roastery in late 2018. Their “predominately decaf” business, as Carol describes it, ideally carries three regular roasts alongside seven decafs. “We roast both so that we can compare our decaf with the regular to be sure we are spot-on with our roast profiles.

“We have a large family (eight children) and we home educate, which makes for crazy-busy days,” Carol explains via email. “A few months after our last child was born, I suffered with extreme adrenal fatigue, which required, among other things, that I give up caffeine. That was really hard because I love coffee and really depended on it to function throughout the day.”

In similar want of salubrious substitution, Kait Brown last year founded Savorista Coffee in Dayton, Ohio. “I first fell in love with coffee as a teenage barista for Boston Stoker,” she recalls. But as an adult, a stressful period compounded by work pressures and her father’s cancer compelled Brown to quit caffeine because it was exacerbating sleeplessness. Eventually, she went seeking drinkable decaf.

“In Colombia, at a blind cupping of decaf and caffeinated coffees, I tasted an incredible coffee. It was one of my two favorites on the table, the flavor notes were really complex and it had a lot of brightness,” she relays by email. “I was shocked to learn that this coffee was a decaf! I realized incredible decaf was possible.”

That Colombian was Savorista’s first coffee. Nowadays, Brown is launching a remarkably berry-toned Ethiopian decaf and “actively looking for more coffees to add to our portfolio, but this has been very challenging,” she says. “I’m not looking for coffee that is ‘good for a decaf.’ I’m looking for coffee that is incredible, full stop, and just happens to be a decaf.”

Some decaf roasteries were born to fulfill not the founders’ desires, but rather their loved ones. Peter Andrews began Sydney’s Playground Roasters in 2016, “when my special lady gone and got herself pregnant, again,” he writes. “It occurred to me that no one was really putting a strong focus on decaf for the coffee enthusiasts amongst us.”

People who connect most with his decaf blend, which is available in cafes around the city, comprise “the growing world of healthy-lifers, the sugar-free movement,” Andrews finds, and “typical cafe-loving mums who so want to have a great coffee, but feel like they just have to go without until they ween the little one.” Though decaf is something he himself has only “occasionally in the afternoon or evening,” he admires the loyalists—included among them are his wife, presently expecting their third child.

“When a customer orders decaf, they are genuinely ordering a coffee for flavor alone—no buzz attached! You could put a case forward that the decaf drinker is the true coffee purist, searching for flavor and flavor alone, while the rest of us are just addicts needing a hit!” he says.

What is more, not all decaf projects are a response to doctor’s orders or an antidote to the jitters.

“We were visiting family in Maine and giving coffee we had roasted as a gift,” Jamie Morganstern recollects of a winter holiday in 2017, when he and his partner, Sara Serino, conceptualized Dewired Coffee. “The days are short in Maine that time of year so we were drinking a lot of decaf, especially when the sun went down. Everyone loved this ritual!”

Today their Berkeley, California-based business offers, on average, three types of decaf. They themselves drink it regularly, but when Morganstern blames buns in the oven, he is not referring to pregnancy. “Sara is always a huge baker, so we’ve pretty much gotten accustomed to having a cup [of decaf] in the evening with a plate of cookies or a slice of pie,” Morganstern says via email.

Though their nights sound traditionally more momcore than millennial-chic, Morganstern is 33 and Serino is 32. They substantiate industry claims that decaf is having a renaissance and young people are its patrons.

“Decaf coffee is also shedding its stigma of being a drink that only the older generation enjoys,” Andrea Piccolo, a senior brand manager at leading specialty decaffeination plant Swiss Water, tells Sprudge. “With millennials leading decaf consumption, the demand is surely to continue its upward growth.”

Still, others attribute decaf’s slow evolution thus far to the specialty scene’s relative infancy.

“Most caffeine-troubled people are not so young and outside of the interest span of these young baristas and roasters,” theorizes Rob Berghmans, who 16 years ago revolutionized Antwerp’s coffee scene with his espresso bar and roastery, Caffènation. “Me myself, I am not addicted,” he says with a laugh.

Yet even Berghmans, ever upfront about the nature of the psychotropic he peddles—his company’s slogan is “One drug, one nation, one Caffènation”—says they have “always been roasting decaf” and are lately enjoying the popularity of their new Caldono.

Another playing-both-sides perspective comes courtesy of long-time San Francisco Sprudge contributor Noah Sanders. In “Searching For The Dark Art Of Decaf,” Sanders reveals how during the early aughts he and fellow baristas sometimes punished “the very worst type of customers” by secretly serving them decaf.

Questioned in 2019 about his own relationship with the substance, he admits: “When I was a barista, I drank six cups of coffee a day until an acupuncturist told me it was undoubtedly the cause of the mildly crippling panic attacks I’d been experiencing. I drank some decaf after that.” These days, he notes: “I try—and fail—to give up caffeine every six months or so and decaf is the lifeline I then cling to, but then only paired with a large-ish amount of steamed milk.”

Now, disguise with dairy no more. At any time, sun up or sun down, you can have your coffee and drink it too. Thanks to these emergent micro-roasteries, contemporary decaf little resembles Grandpa’s Sanka (though what a cute corporate portmanteau that name turns out to be: from the French for sans caffeine). This is certainly NYMD (not your mother’s decaf). As specialty coffee grows up, the black-or-white big-gulp attitudes of yesterday are getting displaced by the nuanced fluidity of personal preference.

We say bring it on. Or more simply put, decaf gives us life.

Karina Hof is a Sprudge staff writer based in Amsterdam. Read more Karina Hof on Sprudge.

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Source: Coffee News