Like craft beer before it, Third Wave coffee is riddled with stereotypes. The caricature of the beer snob is a close relative of the coffee snob — snooty, dismissive and weirdly righteous. You’ll remember, too, that the craft beer community of yesteryear held fast to its belief that certain beers were beneath them — those beers being lagers — until some of the best brewers in America decided they weren’t. Craft coffee’s version of the lager saga is dark roasted coffee, and now it looks like it might get off that high horse, too.
Launched this week, “The Classics” is Trade Coffee’s new monthly coffee subscription. One of our favorite things to come out of last year, Trade is the world’s largest specialty coffee buying platform. Its new subscription entails receiving two bags of darker roasted, specialty-grade coffee beans per month ($25 total), and was built for the person who wants to get into coffee.
“I think the thing about darker roasts is that they’re inherently a bit nostalgic, right — for the most part, that’s how coffee was roasted in America for a very long time. That kind of super over-done roast and stale beans, it wasn’t the most pleasant drinking experience,” Erika Vonnie, director of coffee at Trade, said. “In the past specialty roasters have leaned on lighter roasts, but they tend to be so far removed from what people know about coffee that it makes the transition from Folgers to specialty especially difficult.”
This idea mirrors the prediction of specialty coffee consultant and entrepreneur, James Hoffmann. In a video predicting coffee trends in the new year, Hoffmann spoke to the specialty coffee industry’s traditional stance against dark roasts. Hoffmann said “We’ve pushed back pretty hard against [dark roasts] as an industry. We’ve said dark roasting is morally wrong, it destroys the hard work of great producers, and I understand and see that argument. I think we’re going to start to say ‘if people like dark roasts, why can’t they have good green coffee?’”
What Hoffmann means by “green” coffee is coffee beans prior to roasting (historically, darker roasts were filled using beans of a lower grade). It doesn’t hurt that that buzzy coffee roasters like LA’s Go Get ‘Em Tiger and Arkansas’s Onyx Coffee Lab are releasing higher-end dark roasts, too.
“You can’t hand someone curious about specialty coffee your super funky, light roast Gesha and send them off into the sunset, you know? This is about getting coffee in the hands of people who want something that’s great, but still reminds them of coffee they’ve had before,” Vonnie said.
The Classics subscription is available through Trade’s site now.