Not too long ago, the idea of coffee and the office invoked a mental image of a generic breakroom with a white Mr. Coffee pot that’s been on all day, the liquid slowly evaporating, leaving behind a thick, almost chewy residue of what used to be Maxwell House’s finest. Eager co-workers stand around patiently waiting for that morning brew and then settle for the remnants when it’s time for that two o’clock cup.
Coffee has come a long way from its Ethiopian and Italian origins to become as readily accessible as it has been for the last 70 years or so but — like most things — progress is slowly creeping in and we are seeing changes in our coffee presentation and accessibility. This default of Folgers and Maxwell House just isn’t cutting it anymore (but just don’t tell my dad).
Third wave coffee has been taking our city by storm since the term was coined in 1999 by coffee historian Timothy Castle, which also happens to be the year NoDa’s longstanding coffee spot, Smelly Cat, was opened. To understand the importance of third wave, we must first understand the first and second waves.
The first began (basically) in the late 19th century/ early 20th in the Italian immigrant community’s espresso bars. This segued into Berkeley, California, in the 1960s, when Peet’s Coffee came on the scene. This was the first time artisanal coffee became available widespread.
The second wave hit around the 1970s with (you guessed it) Starbucks opening up in Seattle in 1971. George Howell’s The Coffee Connection opened up in Boston sometime later (before being swallowed up by Starbucks in 1994), bringing quality coffee from his native Berkeley to the east coast.
And now, in this third wave, we see a flood of information on coffee origins (single origin vs. blends), a movement and push towards sustainability, and a desire to bring well-brewed, high quality coffee with us throughout our days.
Through a recent series of well-curated video clips, Not Just Coffee announced their upcoming partnership with Hygge co-working space. They are modeled after the WeWork/Blue Bottle partnership in NYC. Hygge will continue to offer office spaces, but this new Westside location will offer NJC’s largest coffee shop yet, complete with well-trained and friendly baristas. Part of this comes from what Miracle Yoder, co-owner of NJC, considers the concern of dilution of third wave coffee, that a failure to, for instance, check the roast dates of the dialing in of the espresso each day could really put a damper on what the coffee community has been building since NJC came to be in 2011.
Hygge has already partnered with Charlotte-based roasters, featuring different brands at each location. For instance, their Remount location brews a Natural Process Brazil De Salto roast from Enderly Coffee. In fact, Enderly serves coffee to a handful of businesses around town, which includes AccruePartners on Morehead. AccruePartners serves a direct trade Guatemalan, a naturally processed Ethiopian roast and a coffee from Rwanda, just a mile or so from Enderly’s brewing facility and coffee shop on Tuckaseegee. “We just work with offices to find the right equipment solution for their set up as well as training and support to get them rocking and rolling. We have some partners in the office world who also can supplement their purchases with cups and lids and cream and sugar and tea, etc.,” owner Tony Santoro said.
Enderly prides itself on being community-driven, and it’s not alone. The coffee community in Charlotte has been incredibly vocal about inclusion and focusing on people since the 2016 House Bill 2 fiasco, allowing many, including Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp of Pour Coffee Festival, to keep that push for local and global coffee community growth. This coming together has continued through the current ICE crisis with coffee shops such as Trade & Lore putting on fundraisers for families affected by these raids.
It may seem like just a cup of coffee, a routine pick-me-up so many of us partake in each day. Yet, the goal of these businesses and partnerships are to grow awareness and connections between what is happening around us and what we are putting into our bodies. Each action we take comes with a cost to someone or something — farmer, supplier, roaster, down to the compostable paper cups your coffee is poured into.
Partnerships like Not Just Coffee and Hygge’s is important because coffee shops are, by default, co-working spaces and are already actively bringing people together, Yoder said. Offices and coffee have and will have a long relationship, and she said we “may as well make good coffee accessible,” following through with the mission of this generation of coffee purveyors. NJC’s motto, “Love People Not Just Coffee,” comes through with each intentional business move made.
Erin Breeden, chief relations officer of Advent Coworking, says having quality coffee at their Belmont neighborhood location is an extension of their services and commitment to members, that the two really just go hand-in-hand. They currently have airpots filled with locally roasted coffee, and Breeden said they plan to develop this further in the future.
One thing is for sure, coffee is doing more than caffeinating our city. It is providing a sense of belonging, a slew of opportunities and, as always, expertly crafted beverages for you to sip over your computer, wherever you may be.