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May 8, 2014 / Verve

Numbers by the Cup

A few weeks ago, came out to talk to us about the numbers behind a cup of coffee. Their original question – why is specialty coffee so expensive? It’s a good one. This interview with Verve co-founders Colby Barr and Ryan O’Donovan is a window into where your coffee comes from, who is behind it and the incredible attention to detail that goes into every cup. We hope it answers some questions — and inspires even more.

A $15 Cup of Coffee Isn’t So Crazy

(by Jared Frazer,

Why you should care…Because there are plenty of reasons why your coffee tastes so expensive.

As I grow older I have begun to care about different things: Why does my back hurt? Who was onFresh Air today? Should I buy a boat? And, most incessantly, why is $5 coffee socially acceptable?

In case you didn’t know, we currently exist in the era that the coffee world refers to as third-wave coffee. And if you’re now thinking that those two first coffee waves you experienced this morning were enough … ew. Different waves, bro. Third-wave coffee means: Your local roasters know their beans. They know the country the beans grew in, they’ve been to the farm and, hell, they probably even know the farmer’s son who someday aspires to play professional fútbol. And have I mentioned yet that baristas now compete in coffee-making championships?

That level of attention to detail gets pricey. Think you’re used to $5 cups? How about $10 or $15 for a cup of coffee picked and brewed with the care that goes into making a fine wine.

The era of third-wave coffee … you’re living in it.

We went to sleepy Santa Cruz, California to interview the founders of Verve Coffee Roasters, the highly-rated bean purveyor and home to championship-winning baristas. In a town known for surfing, Mexican hoodie ponchos and, if you grew up where I did, its many weed dealers, Verve’s high-end brews are thriving. By combining an airy cafe design, perfectly poured drinks and beans plucked from the rarest coffee estates, Verve has developed an unquestionably unique taste palate.

As they explained to OZY, when you drink coffee from Verve or any other small-batch roaster, you are tasting their particular preferences, from bean to sip. So the next time you see a sign indicating a price north of $5 for a cup of coffee, remember the breakdown:

100 – The average number of trees cultivated by an Ethiopian coffee farmer (birthplace of coffee)

50 lbs – Annual coffee bean yield from those 100 trees

1,151 – Number of cups of coffee brewed from 50 lbs of beans

1,131 – Number of cups an average coffee drinker consumes each year

Meaning, if you drink artisinal Ethiopian coffee for a year, you can justifiably tell your friends that you have a personal Ethiopian coffee farm. Sort of.

So when you grind up those precious beans, do it with a little extra love and attention. The guys from Verve showed us how it’s done:

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