3.5 Minute Read
North America Sales Director
Coffee and food collaborations are nothing new. Look at a café menu and you can see milk and chocolate combinations in the form a latte or a mocha beverage.
But the rise of specialty coffee and the boom of small start-up roasters has sparked an increase in creative partnerships between coffee roasters and specialty companies in other industries. The purpose is to create unique products to satisfy a marketplace looking for new experiences from trusted suppliers. The out-of-home coffee segment is increasingly focused on brands and innovation as the millennial generation, and their purchasing power, matures. Expansion in specialty coffee will come from collaborations outside of the core coffee product.
Collaborative partnerships with like-minded companies open marketing opportunities. In addition to providing content, these projects provide access to channels in the corresponding industry. They broaden the base of people who see the impression of your brand, with the bonus of being associated with a company that they know and trust. The key is carefully choosing to collaborate with a partner whose association offers value rather than cost.
Our North American office is located in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, formed by the vertex cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Known for local universities and the talented workforce they produce, this area has strong technology, gaming, pharmaceutical, life sciences, ag-tech and clean-tech industries. As the Triangle has grown, now with a population of about 2 million people, so has the number of specialty coffee roasters.
Here are some examples of creative food collaborations executed by some of the specialty coffee roasters and allies in the Triangle.
Counter Culture Coffee and craft beer. Counter Culture has been roasting coffee in Durham since 1995 and is one of the leaders in the US specialty coffee movement. Their longevity has provided them with many, many opportunities to collaborate with the craft beer industry, which has also taken off at the same time. Counter Culture has over 8 projects with North Carolina breweries alone, not to mention more with breweries located outside of the state:
Lenny Boy Brewing- Ground Up Coffee Stout; Mother Earth- Silent Night ; Fonta Flora- Holla'gram; Burial - Skillet Donut Stout, Thresher Coffee Saison, and more; Fullsteam - ADSR; Sierra Nevada - No Middle Ground (2014) ; Brewery Bhavana- Single Origin Coffee Saison; Ponysaurus- Baltic Porter
Black and White and Videri Chocolate Factory. Black and White was founded a few years ago by US Barista Champs Lem Butler and Kyle Ramage. Located in the town of Wake Forest, they have a national reputation and their local presence has been growing steadily. Recently they opened a B&W coffee bar inside the Videri Chocolate Factory in downtown Raleigh. Yes, a chocolate factory, where Videri roasts cacao beans (very similar to a coffee roaster!) and they fabricate their own chocolates and confections.
With their co-habitation, and the combined signature beverage experience of two barista champions, we can’t wait to see what synergies this pair will come up with.
Big Spoon Roasters and Go Get Em Tiger. Based in Durham, Big Spoon makes handcrafted nut butters and snack bars from scratch. Here they roast not coffee nor cacao, but nuts! It is the brainchild of Mark Overbay, who learned about roasting nuts in Africa. He spent part of his career working in coffee, so a coffee collaboration with his nut butters is a natural combination. They have a rotating collection of coffee contributors and currently they are partnering with GGET coffee roasters out of Los Angeles, CA. Heirloom mission almonds, GGET Minor Moments espresso, organic coconut nectar, organic virgin coconut oil, Jacobsen sea salt... what isn’t there to like?
Little Waves (formerly 4th Dimension) and Herban Gardening Collective. Are you ready to see collaboration on another level? Little Waves roasts coffee in Durham. The HGC uses the chaff byproduct in their gardens. The gardens grow herbs, from which they then make tinctures that are used in the special coffee pairings at Cocoa Cinnamon, the Little Waves cafes. For example, Angel Frequency, an iced pour over of South American coffees and a rosemary tincture. The name is inspired by “Angels” a song by Jones Michael, a Durham-based musician. Lots of creative energy coming out of the Bull City.
Slingshot and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Raleigh-based Slingshot is a cold brew juggernaut. Jenny and Jonathan Bonchak created a custom cold brew for Jeni’s which is then made into a flavorful sorbet. This sorbet is then swirled with sweet, rich coconut cream. Jeni’s is known for uncompromising quality and doing things the hard way. Combining the talents of a pioneer in artisan ice cream with pioneers in cold brew coffee creates some dairy-free and vegan magic.
These are just a few local examples of how coffee roasters are working with other foods and flavors to create new and interesting products and projects. The collaborative footprint ranges from very local to national in scope and provides consumers of different foods an access point for new perspectives on specialty coffee and vice-versa. We look forward to even more fresh ideas and unexpected partnerships, and seeing just where the future will take the coffee world.