One of the reasons that Philadelphia is a great coffee city is a combination of financial accessibility and location. We’re pretty centrally located in Philadelphia, only about 90 minutes from New York, and about the same to DC. This gives Philadelphia a bigger city vibe, but it’s also still really affordable, so it creates a freedom where people like us can just kind of start roasting and following the direction we want to take our coffees without needing to worry about investors or outside financial influencers. It fosters a really nice ability to grow and be unique, and I think that’s what makes Philly great.
Our interpretation of that phrase lines up with the literal definition. Something along the lines of makers who are taking care in doing what they’re doing (in this instance, roasting coffee). We tend to think of ourselves as being more in the realm of science. Roasting coffee isn’t an inherently difficult thing to do on a base level, but to do it well, and with consistency, requires a lot of detailed and data-driven practices and procedures. So our version of “artisan coffee” is a group of people who are theorizing, crunching numbers, and using the scientific method to experiment and consistently improve the product that we’re selling.
We got tired of visiting other coffee shops and roasters and tasting coffees out of season that had become baggy, lifeless, or just generally bad tasting. To us, it showed a lack of thought put into the sourcing and contracting phase, and we didn’t want to be guilty of that anymore. So we buckled down, and adjusted our procedures. We take shorter contracts on coffees or purchase smaller microlots, so that we can serve coffees while they’re in season and shining and move on to fresher lots afterward. Having a hyper-seasonal menu keeps things more exciting for us and our customers. It took a little more work to shift gears, but now that we’re there, we think it’s the best model from a quality standpoint.