Iced kegs latest twist in tech firm coffee wars

Joyride Cofee makes regular deliveries to tech companies to keep their employeed caffeinated.

Shocking though it sounds, until recently East Coast tech companies forced their employees to drink swill instead of premium, fair trade, artisan fresh-roasted coffee.

At least that’s according to Joyride Coffee, a New York company that set out to rectify this crime against tech workers’ god-given right to luxuriate in the best perks.

Founded by three brothers, the distributor lined up deals with the creme de la creme of Silicon Alley to make regular deliveries of its “kegerator” — a vat of concentrated, cold-brew coffee that workers can dilute one to one or  just drink straight up for an extra buzz. It also offers fresh-ground beans, tea and all the equipment for brewing.

Now it’s moved west, targeting SF as the next locale in need of a premium caffeine infusion.

Um, but are we not already on the leading edge of every single food and beverage trend you can name?

“The coffee culture out here is incredibly more developed than it is in New York,” admitted Noah Belanich, 25, the youngest of the Joyride brothers, who’s been supervising the new set-up here. “But even if companies gets Philz or Peets, it’s never fresh. Most vendors just buy it and leave it in a warehouse for one or two months, so it never tastes as good as freshly roasted. Coffee has a limited shelf life; its peak freshness lasts two weeks.”

Joyride is setting up a warehouse in Bayview and has two trucks and six employees here. It has scored  brand-name clients who heard about it from their New York siblings, including Twitter, Zynga, PracticeFusion. Uber is likely on tap as well, Belanich just met with them.

“Eighty percent of customers go with the cold brew,” Belanich said. “We do office tastings and it catches on fast.”

The “third wave” coffee trend of artisan roasts is already a decade old. Specialty coffee accounts for more than a third of the $32 billion in U.S. coffee production.

Venture capitalists have poured money into third-wave coffee as if it were an app. Blue Bottle Coffee Co. has a stunning $46 million in VC backing, most recently a $26 million round led by Google Ventures. Stumptown (which Joyride relies on in New York) was recently acquired by TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity firm. The venerable Philz Coffee landed a multimillion-dollar investment last year.

Unlike those enterprises, Joyride is purely a distributor; it buys its beans from the likes of Stumptown and Blue Bottle. The company has been entirely boot-strapped. Will it seek venture backing?

“I don’t know what we’d do with a large investment,” Belanich said. “Doing it slower and right is more important. A roaster can set up a larger roaster but delivering coffee is labor-intensive. On-boarding people takes time.”

Source: SF Gate 

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