The Rise of the Independent Coffee Roaster and a Newcomer Called CUPSpbfycom
Starbucks is the name, the brand, and the coffee that everyone is talking about. Not only have they revolutionized the coffee shop worldwide along with the marketing bonanza that goes with it, they’ve now taken to the streets with coffee trucks and to high end cuppings in bean tasting rooms across America. Starbucks is a $60 Billion dollar a year industry, and that’s something to be taken seriously.
Independent coffee roasters aren’t taking this lying down. In fact, many independents have made it their mission to bring the best cup of coffee to their neighborhoods and hope to dislodge Starbucks who seems to have a foothold on just about every other corner in any given city. While it’s true that Starbucks has a “great read” on the coffee culture, independents have an edge. Independent coffee roasters know their clientele and have tailored their product to the wants and desires of their neighborhood customers. They give more than just a corporate, cookie cutter experience. Independents give a personal experience and personal touch that their customers just can’t get anywhere else.
One of the newest companies that is giving Starbucks a run for its money with a new twist on delivering coffee in New York City is CUPS (cups.com). CUPS offers prepaid coffee plans and monthly subscriptions for local cafes around New York City. “Sort of like Starbucks, but not.” Prices range from $16 for 5 cups to a $120 unlimited monthly rate. CUPS outdoes Starbucks in allowing the consumer to discover fun and cool local joints . They’re just a start-up now, but are poised to spread throughout the U.S. in the coming year. Stay tuned.
Overall, Independents have been taking the market share away from Starbucks at a rapid rate from coast to coast. The so-called “Third Wave” of coffee roasters is making its mark on cities from San Francisco to Miami and everywhere in between. The independent revolution is in full swing. Epicurious.com recently listed a “Top 18” that reads like a Who’s Who of Independents all across America. Included on that list were pioneers like Intelligentsia from LA, Chicago and NYC, and Durham, NC’s Counter Culture Coffee and Ritual Coffee Roasters from the Bay Area of California.
What was surprising on this list wasn’t the mainstay cult favorites such as Madcap Coffee of D.C. and Grand Rapids, MI and Ceremony Coffee Roasters of Annapolis MD, and the mention of so-called beauty queens like Sightglass out of San Francisco and Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, the Pacific Northwest’s favorite artisan coffee company. It was the volume and quality of the newcomers that made the list.
Among those who made the cut were up and comers from all over the nation.including Ruby Roasters out of Wisconsin, Nobletree and Cafe’ Grumpy from Brooklyn, NY, Onyx Coffee from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Tandem Coffee Roasters from Portland, Maine. These are by no means the only new and fresh coffee roasters, Merely the ones chosen by the Epicurious list.
The new trends are all about micro batches, single roasts and unique blends. Single-origin, fair-trade, organic beans and craft roasting all come together in this third wave of independent coffee roasting. Each community in the scene is putting forth their own unique blends, packaging, roasts and flavors. While they sometimes get a little too big for their britches, Stumptown Coffee for example, was recently bought out by Peets; the independent coffee roaster is holding its own in neighborhoods across America.
While there will always be a place in the world for “corporate coffee”, the Starbucks and the Peet’s of the world are not going anywhere soon. We love this trend of independent companies surging to the forefront of the coffee scene. As long as there are big names out there, the little guys will be striving to make their mark as well. We think they’re doing a great job!