Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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67 online, and at REI, was a result of a collaborative process. "Sudden has the ability to do small test runs, which helped us gain deeper insight into how the coffee would taste in instant form, before deciding to move forward with a larger production run," says Ted. Among the latest adopters is New York–based coffee roaster Joe, though owner Jonathan Rubinstein says he surprised even himself by jumping on- board. "Never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined that we'd one day be excited about an instant-coffee, but we are," Jonathan says. Upon learning of the advancements made by specialty instant companies to make great-tasting instant, Jonathan and Joe Coffee took the plunge, partnering with Swift Cup Coffee to release Joe Specialty Instant in May. Jonathan says they chose Swift Cup because of "their ability to help us reach our goal of remaining true to our ideals, putting taste, sourcing, and quality at the forefront. Their new technology allows the beautiful expressions of our coffees to shine through with full fl avor and character, and we love it." For another roasting company, getting into the instant-coffee market was a do-it-yourself process full of experimentation. Lem Butler and Kyle Ramage, both former United States Barista Champions and own- ers of North Carolina–based Black and White Coffee, wanted to produce instant-coffee they could offer at a low cost to their customers. "We took a leap of faith in ourselves and our bank account and purchased a freeze-drier so we could do this in-house," says Lem. "I read about instant and watched some YouTube videos on how larger companies did it." Adds Kyle, "We believe that this market is relatively untapped, and that as a roaster, producing instant gives us not only another product, but also hours to give to our baristas." W H E R E D O W E G O F R O M H E R E ? Most specialty instant is offered to customers in the range of $1.75 to $3.25 per cup—a higher price point than buying whole-bean coffee. A 12-ounce bag purchased for $18 may make 15 cups for a per-cup price of $1.20. (See the sidebar "Instant at a Glance" for more instant pricing.) But consumers are willing to pay for the convenience—and instant-coffee appears to be trending upward. Market-research com- pany Euromonitor reported that global sales of instant-coffee tripled from 2000 to 2014, though instant-coffee only makes up 3 percent of the coffee market in the United States, and specialty instant-coffee is a tiny piece of that. Instant-coffee accounts for a much larger portion of sales in much of the rest of the world, and some investors are banking on instant catching on the United States. Just look at the venture capital firm CRV, which in 2016 invested $2.7 million in Sudden Coffee. It seems likely the specialty-coffee industry will see signifi cantly more high-quality instant in the near future, and its proponents point to the benefi ts of that development. "We've always believed that everyone should have access to sustainably sourced, wonderful coffee at home or anywhere," says Jonathan of Joe Coffee. Adds Kent of Voilà: "It lowers the barrier of entry, and it's the ultimate solution for people who already love specialty coffee to take it anywhere." By bringing the specialty approach to the instant market, the enterprising group in this emerging market hopes it fetches a deeper appreciation for the product from a wider audience—conveniently packaged. " We strongly believe in the guiding principles of specialty coffee. It's one of the few industries that is committed to paying more for its raw materials, in order to correct systemic imbalances," says Umeko of Sudden Coffee. "Usually, in order to reach new customers, a specialty-coffee company has to physically build out new retail cafés. Now there's a different way that coffee companies can reach new customers." SYRUPS | SAUCES | POWDERS created by baristas for baristas

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