A pioneer of Third Wave coffee roasters distinguished by sustainable offerings and education. Features an interview with Erin McCarthy, America’s first World Brewer’s Cup Champion, in the new La Marzocco cafe in Seattle.
Ray: I’m Ray.
Kandace: I’m Kandace.
Ray: Welcome to Season 2 of Unpacking Coffee! This week …
Kandace: Counter Culture.
Ray: Counter Culture was founded in 1995 making then probably one of the earliest of the third wave coffee companies.
Kandace: They’ve really been leading the way in coffee for a long time. They started having public cuppings all the way back in 2002. They were focusing on … Like you said, education or making coffee super accessible or being really transparent. That’s been part of their mission from the very beginning. Year after year they’re just continuing to build on that and it’s pretty amazing.
Ray: I wish I had worn my hoodie. This just looks very plain.
Kandace: Go put your hoodie on.
Ray: No it’s okay.
Kandace: That was your reaction to that whole thing about sustainability?
Ray: We also got to chat with Scott Callender.
Scott: Hi, I’m Scott Callender. I work for La Marzocco and I head up the home business for La Marzocco. We are in the La Marzocco café and show room in Seattle Center. We invite roasters from around the world to come in here, reinvent the space, reinvent the menu and they will develop a coffee service that will last for one month here in the café as popup. We have right now a very special guest with us here at the café. It is Counter Culture Coffee and they are from Durham, North Carolina. They’re doing some really special stuff right now.
Kandace: From the beginning, they’ve had a commitment to sustainability.
Ray: That’s right.
Kandace: Which they’re one of the first bird friendly coffees.
Ray: Mm-hmm (affirmative) They have a program they call Counter Intelligence.
Kandace: Shut up.
Ray: It’s true.
Kandace: That’s awesome.
Ray: It’s awesome.
Kandace: I didn’t even see anything about that.
Ray: This is their standard packaging with a nice roast date sticker.
Kandace: Seriously. They have some really nice … These nice little 4 ouncers.
Ray: Bio-trade bag here. Actually, we went up to Seattle this past week to visit the La Marzocco.
Kandace: It’s their café in KEXP, the new space.
Erin: Kennith spoke to Erin McCarthy about, he was the world brewing champion in 2013, is that right?
Kandace: He was the first North American to win that title.
Ray: Kind of an expert, and in fact, he brewed …
Kandace: Kind of knows everything about coffee so.
Erin: My name is Erin McCarthy. I work for Counter Culture Coffee out of New York City as a tech. I won the 2013 world brewers cup championship so I started out as a barista, and then kind of got into the competition circuit for three years.
Kandace: You were the first American to win?
Erin: It’s true, yeah. Yeah.
Kandace: What I thought was really interesting about this is that, so Erin is a barista right now during September, during part of September, at the La Marzocco space. Erin has a couple flights and they’re really interesting.
Erin: I tried to kind of make it a little journey if you will.
Erin: The Geisha variety is an heirloom variety from Ethiopia so the seed that Moisés and Marysabel, the producers planted is the same variety that can be found in Ethiopia and have been found for hundreds of years.
The SL28, the SL stands for Scot Laboratories and that was created in a lab with the purposes of higher production and resistance to disease for Kenya. So, what’s really neat about that is it’s one of the most popular varieties grown in Kenya so when you taste this coffee, it tastes like you’re drinking a Kenyan coffee which is super neat…to also separate that idea of a taste of place and layer it. Variety can also taste a certain way.
Kandace: I’m excited about it.
Erin: It was my pleasure.
Kandace: Counter Culture Coffee.
Ray: Of Durham, North Carolina. Hey, we’re back!
Thanks to Rachel Classi and Erin McCarthy from Counter Culture for sending us beautiful coffee, talking to us, and allowing us to tell their story. And to Scott Callender and all the fine folks at KEXP for allowing us into their gorgeous space.