Espresso Blog

2015: The Year In Coffee Culture

by Julie Beals on December 30, 2015

by Liz Clayton

Originally published at eater.com.

This year, coffee culture went from specialty to mainstream.

 

The contemporary specialty coffee movement, whatever you wish to call it, has long been entwined with what many people have viewed (and embraced) as groups that are outsider and indie. And while it's true that fancy coffee places haven't really been "for geeks, by geeks" for some time now—and some never were—the shifting sands of this once outlying culture had not, until this year, seen quite such bold steps towards mainstream.

While ardent coffee fans may have already noticed this shift, it was never more pronounced than October's headlines announcing Bay Area-based Peet's Coffee—themselves owned by the JAB Holding Company investment group, who control majority shares in Caribou Coffee and fashion house Jimmy Choo, among others—had purchased Portland's Stumptown Coffee Roasters, as well as Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters. Stumptown, which had already been sold in 2011 to TSG Consumer Partners, is poised to extend Peet's boutique-market reach, particularly through Stumptown's rapidly growing grab and go cold brew vertical. The addition of Intelligentsia to the Peet's portfolio (Peetsfolio?) mere weeks after enables the Bay Area roaster to be even more competitive. As Peet's president CEO Dave Berwick explained in October, the moves guarantee Peet's a stronger foothold in the diversifying coffee industry: "To capture more than our fair share of this market, it's important that we offer differentiated craft coffee brands."

Though it's not a new phenomenon in the haute coffee world—Oakland's Blue Bottle Coffee has raised multiple rounds of $20,000,000 plus financing in the last few years—a well-known, major chain purchasing two once-independent roasters almost simultaneously gave some people pause. But it shouldn't have.

"Honestly it's the natural process, it's the life cycle of a business," said Tracy Allen, president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. "You build your company to a certain point, someone buys it. This gives us a look at what the ceiling is for true specialty coffee. $20 or $30 million seems to be the point where you get the attention of companies that are looking to put portfolios together of regional roasters with established brands."

Though it's not a new phenomenon in the haute coffee world—Oakland's Blue Bottle Coffee has raised multiple rounds of $20,000,000 plus financing in the last few years—a well-known, major chain purchasing two once-independent roasters almost simultaneously gave some people pause. But it shouldn't have.

"Honestly it's the natural process, it's the life cycle of a business," said Tracy Allen, president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. "You build your company to a certain point, someone buys it. This gives us a look at what the ceiling is for true specialty coffee. $20 or $30 million seems to be the point where you get the attention of companies that are looking to put portfolios together of regional roasters with established brands."

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

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Topics: coffee, culture

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