Did it just get darker?

Dark-Roasted Coffee Could Be the Comeback Story of 2019


January 18, 2019 Home By Photo by Chandler Bondurant

Like craft beer before it, Third Wave coffee is riddled with stereotypes. The caricature of the beer snob is a close relative of the coffee snob — snooty, dismissive and weirdly righteous. You’ll remember, too, that the craft beer community of yesteryear held fast to its belief that certain beers were beneath them — such as lagers — until some of America’s best brewers decided they weren’t. Craft coffee’s version of the lager saga is darkly roasted coffee, and now it looks like it might get off that high horse, too.

Meet “The Classics,” Trade Coffee’s new monthly coffee subscription. Built for the person who wants to get into coffee, new subscription nets you two bags of dark-roasted, specialty-grade coffee beans per month ($25 total).

“I think the thing about darker roasts is that they’re inherently a bit nostalgic,” said Erika Vonie, director of coffee at Trade. “For the most part, that’s how coffee was roasted in America for a very long time. In the past, specialty roasters have leaned on lighter roasts, but they tend to be so far removed from what people know about coffee that it makes the transition from Folgers to specialty especially difficult.”

This idea mirrors the prediction of specialty coffee consultant and entrepreneur, James Hoffmann. In a video predicting coffee trends in the new year, Hoffmann spoke to the specialty coffee industry’s traditional stance against dark roasts: “We’ve pushed back pretty hard against [dark roasts] as an industry. We’ve said dark roasting is morally wrong, it destroys the hard work of great producers, and I understand and see that argument. I think we’re going to start to say, ‘If people like dark roasts, why can’t they have good green coffee?'”

By “green” coffee, Hoffman is referring to coffee beans prior to roasting (historically, darker roasts were filled using beans of a lower grade). It doesn’t hurt that that buzzy coffee roasters like LA’s Go Get ‘Em Tiger and Arkansas’s Onyx Coffee Lab are releasing higher-end dark roasts, too.

“You can’t hand someone curious about specialty coffee your super funky, light-roast Gesha and send them off into the sunset,” Vonie said. “This is about getting coffee in the hands of people who want something that’s great, but still reminds them of coffee they’ve had before.”

The Classics subscription is available through Trade’s site now.

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Will Price is Gear Patrol's home and drinks editor. He's from Atlanta and lives in Brooklyn. He's interested in bourbon, houseplants, cheap Japanese pens and cast-iron skillets — maybe a little too much.

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