Next week, Atlanta's Batdorf & Bronson and St. Louis' Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company will launch a new blend of coffees from Guatemala San Pedro and Guatemala Finca El Valle. This collaboration or, as they're calling it, "Collabrewation" seems to be an innovative new step in coffee culture, bringing two roasters together to create a new kind of specialty roasting partnership.
Curious to hear more about the project, we caught up with Batdorf & Bronson's Jason Dominy to ask him some questions about the challenges and benefits of collaborating with roasters, brewers, and popsicle makers. He filled us in with all the details.
What is a "Collabrewation?"
"Collabrewation" is the first collaboration coffee between two specialty coffee roasters, and signifies our desire to support the greater cause of specialty coffee through partnering with other great roasters.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea of Collabrewation came from my love of the unity of craft beer brewers who, in taking on the giant commercial beer companies, band together releasing collaboration beers. As they do this, they give a unified charge against the giants, and don’t compete on price or gimmicks, but simply great beer. And as they work together, the craft beer industry benefits on the whole from the collaboration. Both brewers look great when a great collaboration beer is made, and craft beer wins. And we can do this same thing for specialty coffee.
When we work together, we represent not just our companies well, but specialty coffee, and our end goal is to share the beauty that is specialty coffee, and let consumers choose what their favorite coffee is based on a greater understanding of quality coffee. Josh Ferguson and his team at Kaldi’s Coffee get that concept, and were totally on board. Collabrewation encapsulates my thoughts on how we move forward in a positive way in the specialty coffee industry, mirroring what the craft beer industry has been very successful at. We at Batdorf & Bronson believe that our industry is still in it’s infancy, with lots of room to grow and mature, and we are committed to being on the front lines of the revolution that is exceptional coffee.
How did this collaboration come about?
I've been working on this in my head for several years, and this project in particular for about a year. One reason it's taken so long is that I've been involved in organizing so many of our collaborations here in Atlanta, and with other folks around the country. We've been proudly collaborating and partnering with Cacao Atlanta for almost two years, and created a chocolate that uses our coffee. We introduced the coffee: POPS with King of Pops, which is a line of pops made with our coffee and handmade espresso drinks. We created a Coffee IPA with Monday Night Brewing, and will launch a beer together this year tentatively and love what they do. And the last project, which I'm also very proud of, is the Black Coffee Ice Cream we do with Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, out of Columbus, OH. Jeni's is the best artisan ice cream maker in the country, and an ice cream that features our Guatemala (the same one used in the Collabrewation coffee), is something that allows us to not only highlight how good the coffee is, but also tell the story of Finca El Valle. Because of my love of the success of these collaborations, and how they've helped us support lots of other great businesses, it was the natural progression, as it was the next step doing it in my own industry.
Was it challenging to work together at such a distance?
The logistics end was the most difficult part of this project, we sent coffees back and forth, tasting them and trying to pair them up with our coffees and coming up with a coffee combination that highlighted both coffees well, and told a story. For example, the Guatemala Finca El Valle we've been buying for the past 14 years, and is a very special coffee for us. We partner with and support Cristina Gonzales, and work hard to represent her farm's hard work as best as possible. Once we identified the coffee we were going to use, it became a matter of the nuts and bolts of who would package and ship it out, and how we could get the coffee to each other in the fastest time possible, because we believe there is no better coffee than fresh coffee. We will be shipping coffee to each other, and packaging at each of our roasteries, both here in Atlanta and at their Roastery in St. Louis.
Is there a plan for to keep this going in the future?
I sure hope so. I'd love to do more. This is definitely just the first of many I'd like to do. I really enjoy working with friends, and I've got lots of friends who work at and run coffee roasteries around the country. I've got a list of roasters I'd like to work with, and would love to see other roasters collaborating with other roasters. I hope this is a catalyst in our industry to fuel more working together to further specialty coffee, instead of just doing our own thing, with our own messages. What we've ended up with for consumers is all these different messages, labels, certifications, and at the end of it consumers don't have a real grasp on what specialty coffee really is. I hope that by working together for the greater good of specialty coffee, our message becomes more unified, and consumers are more educated as to what makes our coffee different than what they get at a donut shop or a drive-thru fast food coffee shop.