In the past 50 years, the coffee industry has come a long way.
The progressive stages have brought us to a period where coffee is not just your morning wake-up call or after-dinner drink. Today, coffee is becoming a culinary experience, with microroasters popping up left and right, mirroring the craft beer movement.
If you know anything about emerging coffee culture over the past two decades, you've probably heard the reference to "waves." Roasting companies like Folgers and Maxwell House launched the first wave of mass-marketed coffee in the '60s. In the early '90s, Starbucks came on the scene with the second wave, offering a menu of specialty coffees made to-order.
Today, the third wave of coffee brewing is on the rise, with nationally recognized artisanal brands like Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea in Chicago, Counter Culture Coffee in North Carolina, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters of Portland bringing an ultragourmet touch to the bean scene.
These coffee roasters exemplify the philosophy and goal of the third-wave coffee industry: offer a product that stands for quality, direct trade, and sustainable business practices.
Local roasters bringing handcrafted coffees to the caffeine-guzzling masses include Palm Beach County's first, Oceana Coffee, in Tequesta; West Palm Beach-based SubCulture Coffee Roasters; Rabbit Coffee Roasting in Riviera Beach; Argyle Coffee Roasting in Fort Lauderdale; Switchbox Coffee Roasters in Oakland Park; and the soon-to-expand Wells Coffee in Boca Raton.
But is there a fourth wave to come? According to four-month-old Pumphouse Coffee Roasters cofounders Christian and Alex Le Clainche, yes. Brothers and business partners, the duo don't just want to give you a better cup of coffee — they're also on a mission to educate.
At Pumphouse's Jupiter-based roasting facility, coffee sourcing, roasting, and proper brewing method instruction take a significant role in the business model. Together, they believe a better-educated consumer strengthens the industry as a whole.
To that end, Alex says the business focuses on wholesale production first in place of going the traditional coffee shop route.
"We want everyone to know not just what good coffee is supposed to taste like but why it tastes that way," says Alex, who works with all-organic farms to select the beans he roasts using a Probat L12.
Right now the idea is to utilize the large, bright roasting facility to teach new and potential clients the process behind buying responsibly sourced, specialty roasted coffee. With an emphasis on transparency, customers can trace the heritage of their favorite coffee to the very farm from which it was harvested to better understand how the soil, altitude, and method of processing later become critical factors to the final roasted product.
To go one step further, Christian — who traveled extensively to train as a barista in various cities across the country — also shows their staff and clients how to measure and brew Pumphouse roasts to create the perfect cup of coffee or espresso.
"It's just one part of what we do for the restaurants and businesses that buy from us," says Christian. "It helps to ensure our product is being properly represented, but it's also about helping them to do more with the product for the customer. If we have to define a fourth wave in specialty coffee, we'd say it's the independent businesses like us offering customers total transparency through education."
One thing that needs absolutely no explanation, however, is Pumphouse's hand-bottled cold brew. Known as Dawn Patrol, it's an incredibly smooth, creamy cold brew available ready-to-serve for both retailers and consumers in kegs or growlers, as well as in four-packs or by the case.
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"Coffee is complex — similar to wine," says Alex. "And, just like a fine wine, there's a stigma if you don't understand why it's better or more expensive. We want to pioneer change so that no matter if you're out to eat or making coffee at home, it can be a higher quality experience."
Visit Pumphouse's online retail shop, or find bottles at a number of Palm Beach County retailers including Jupiter Doughnuts and Food Shack in Jupiter, Harold's Coffee and Celis Produce in West Palm Beach, Brewhouse Gallery in Lake Park, and Amici Market in Palm Beach.
Pumphouse Coffee Roasters. 1095 Jupiter Park Dr. #4, Jupiter; 561-379-9562; visit pumphousecoffeeroasters.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the New Times Food & Drink Instagram.