Verve Coffee: A Ritual for Obsessives

by Zach March 18, 2014

As you may have already heard, we have assembled some of most obsessive names in mountain biking to bring you the most obsessive contest in mountain biking. But the scope of the giveaway isn’t limited to just the trail world that we inhabit; we’ve reached out to other obsessive layers of our DNA, with particular regard to the inclinations of our founder Zander Nosler who is a lifelong coffee aficionado.

In addition to finding zen on the trail, we knew that our Obsessives prize package also needed to include the means for finding zen at the bottom of a coffee cup — no matter where on the trail you were. But which portable brewing kit fit the bill? And whose coffee could we deem obsessive enough? There is no shortage of great brew in California, but there is one roastery whose obsessive benchmark for quality stands head and shoulders above many: Verve Coffee Roasters. And luckily for us, Verve’s globe-trotting co-owner and green coffee buyer Colby Barr has already assembled the perfect portable travel brewing kit, which contains: an Aeropress, a Ceramic Slim grinder from Hario Coffee Mill, a pocket scale, a half-liter electric travel kettle from Bonavita, the above-pictured steel camp mug, and plenty of Verve Coffee to get you started.

We recently made the short drive down to Santa Cruz to pay a visit to Verve’s impressive Bronson Street roastery — a historic industrial space that channels the collective energies of travel, surf, urban, culinary, and entrepreneurial cultures for a flavor all its own. The roastery is also ground zero for Verve’s signature care and craft: an obsessiveness that permeates every aspect of the daily ritual with a perfect cup of coffee. From cultivating and roasting the beans, to the final cupping — there is no stage of the lengthy process that Verve does not oversee. The young company prides itself in maintaining great relationships and strict quality control measures to ensure that the perfect cup can be enjoyed by novices and aficionados alike.

Because Verve’s in-house commitment to quality encompasses the entire process — from sourcing and sampling to roasting and distributing, success is contingent on starting with a better product. This means refining the traditional Fair Trade coffee model by doing more directly at the source — namely the small plantations in remote parts of Africa and Latin America where the beans are grown. It’s here, where meaningful partnerships with the growers are cultivated to simplify the distribution channels and solidify the truth that happy, well-compensated plantations will continue to remain the source of the very best coffee in the world.

With a full catalog of exclusive and hand-selected green coffee at Verve’s disposal, the real magic of Verve happens in Santa Cruz, at the roastery. It’s here where Verve’s 1965 German-made Probat UG15 roaster brings the character and unique flavor profile of each coffee to life. But long before the mighty Probat is able to churn through its daily roasts (and before the coffee is even purchased outright), each batch is first sampled; brought in and roasted in small batches in Verve’s adjacent testing laboratory to ensure quality, and a seamless integration with the rest of the Verve line. Even after the full-scale roasting production on a particular batch begins, everything is still carefully monitored — sampled, then sampled again at every step in the process. There is no automation in the Verve roasting process — everything from loading, bagging and shipping, to recording notes on each batch is done entirely by hand. Consistency and quality cannot be achieved without a trained sense of taste and an obsessive attention to detail that continuously learns from what works and from what doesn’t.

Granted, the Probat machine is nearly 40 years old, but that doesn’t mean it has to look it. Once per week, every piece of age-defying machinery on the roasting floor is stripped and thoroughly cleaned — a laborious and time-consuming process, but one that further eliminates any possibility for inconsistency between roasting batches.

Ultimately, Verve’s goal is to make great coffee fully accessible — whether you’re seeking Verve’s approachable and best-selling “street level” espresso blend, or on the hunt for a more esoteric coffee experience, like Verve’s ultra-exclusive and highly sought-after Geisha roast (now long gone, sadly). But one thing that unites each aspect of the Verve experience is an obsession on delivering absolute quality across the spectrum and in every cup. [zp]

We’re proud to partner with fellow obsessives at Verve Coffee for our Join the Obsessives giveaway. So if you haven’t already, click here to enter to win the Verve Aeropress Kit, a closet of Kitsbow gear, and that fully-equipped Ibis Ripley.

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