Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Community News Network

March 25, 2014

Coffee's third wave? The Apple to Starbucks' Microsoft

NEW YORK — Do you remember when Starbucks was cool? It opened in Seattle in the 1970s as a local specialty roaster, a trendy alternative to the prevailing generic swill. Then former employee Howard Schultz bought it in 1987, and with help from investors, embarked on an ambitious national expansion. Starbucks conquered the country, then the world, and turned coffee in America from a commodity into an obsession.

But the price of conquest is cachet. What was once novel — the warm décor, the gentle music, the faux-Italian lingo — has become banal. Today's coffee snobs would rather snort Sanka than set foot inside a Starbucks.

Their search for a better cup has given rise to a new crop of roasters whose reverence for coffee borders on religious. Stumptown of Portland, Ore.; Intelligentsia of Chicago; and Counter Culture of Durham, N.C., don't just sell "dark roast" and "light roast." They sell coffees like Stumptown's Indonesia Sulawesi Toarco Toraja, which is grown by smallholder farmers whose faces you can see on the Stumptown website. The beans come with descriptors like "fair-trade," "single-origin" and "shade-grown," and sport "flavor profiles" that would make Robert Parker blush. They're roasted and brewed with obsessive attention to details like the extraction rate and brewing ratio, which are separately optimized to bring out the best in each bean.

The question investors are asking now is: Can coffee's "third wave" produce a Starbucks of its own? A group of big-name Bay Area techies — including Kevin Systrom of Instagram, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, and venture capital firms like Google Ventures and True Ventures — believes it can. Over the past two years, they've been pouring tens of millions into a San Francisco favorite that just might be the Apple to Starbucks' Microsoft.

Text Only
Community News Network
Features
AP Video
Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel David Perdue Wins Georgia GOP Senate Runoff 98-Year-Old Woman Left in Parked Truck Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire Flight to Tel Aviv From US Diverted to Paris AP Review: Amazon Fire Adds Spark to Smartphones Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Raw: Massive Fire Burns in North Dakota Town Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Upon completion and reopening of Third Street, should the City of Knoxville wait to start the next stage of the Streetscape and Infrastructure project until 2015?

Yes
No
     View Results