Coffee, it seems, is having an extended moment. Artisanal coffee makers Blue Bottle Coffee, of Williamsburg, received $70 million in funding at the beginning of the summer. Red Hook brewers Afineur are bioengineering a new type of coffee. And Prospect Park-based Angels’ Cup is offering weekly tastings, delivered to your home.
The company, led by Jeff Borack and Abby Salazar, sends subscribers a weekly taste of four different coffee beans every Friday, priced at $8.99 for small cups. If you like what you taste, they help you buy from the roaster. Otherwise, you’ll never get the same cup of coffee twice, they say. With the company’s app, users can take notes and evaluate the coffees.
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We asked Borack a couple questions about the company, the market and working in Brooklyn.
What problem did you see in the coffee marketplace that you tried to solve for?
I was a coffee drinker for a very long time before I started really paying attention to how it tastes. You go to a grocery store or a coffee shop and you pick your coffee based on the origin. For most people that’s totally meaningless. It’s no different than asking someone who doesn’t really know beer if they want a Belgian triple or an IPA. But different coffees from different regions actually have distinct flavors (usually), and it’s fun to learn how to pick those out.
Slowing down and taking the time to actually taste your coffee is a super easy way to increase quality of life.
Angels’ Cup is designed to help people do that.
You get four coffees to try side-by-side, and we have an app you use to record tasting notes and compare answers with the roaster and members of our community. The responses have been lightly edited.
Why is tasting coffee important?
Coffee is something a lot of people drink every day, and taking the time to appreciate it only takes an extra 30 seconds. You wouldn’t watch a movie with sunglasses on, you want to see it. So I think that slowing down and taking the time to actually taste your coffee is a super easy way to increase quality of life.
Also when you start paying attention to the flavors and aromas in your coffee, you’ll find yourself paying more attention to other things you enjoy, like whiskey, wine, beer, or even just well-prepared food. It makes everything you eat taste better for the rest of your life.
There’s been quite a boom in monthly or weekly consumer subscriptions in the tech world in the past couple of years. I’m thinking shave clubs and Birchbox and Quinciple. Why do you think that is?
I think new business models are emerging all over the place. In some cases (shave clubs) it’s to cut out the middleman (the store) and to break the “razor and blades” model where people get a free handle and then get gouged on the blades. I’m a very happy subscriber to Dollar Shave Club.
In the case of Birchbox, I think they positioned themselves as marketing partners to the brands. They recognized that consumers like to get samples, and cosmetics companies like to give them to people, so they’re bridging that gap. Angels’ Cup is a little different in that we really provide a unique experience to our subscribers. It’s not just about getting coffee, it’s about the tasting experience. Like Birchbox, we view ourselves as marketing partners to the roasters, and part of our value proposition to subscribers is that a) you get exposure to roasters and origins you wouldn’t have otherwise have tried, and b) we break bags up into small samples so you get more variety for less money. But we also have a huge value-add experience in the form of our tasting app. We’re proud of the design, and it’s really teaching people to taste coffee in a new way.
Why are you guys based in Brooklyn?
Brooklyn is a great place to live. We’re close to Prospect Park, which is really nice. Excellent food, nightlife, access to transportation. Super sad that Bierkraft closed down, not sure what happened there. But life goes on.
I’m fortunate to have a back yard, so I’m able to have friends over for BBQ’s on the weekend. And when my son is old enough, assuming we don’t move, he’ll have a good school to go to. The business isn’t ready for it yet, but when the time comes, being close to NYC is great for access to capital. There’s a vibrant startup scene, lots of people with great ideas starting businesses. I also have no doubt that as we grow, we’ll have a good talent base to pull employees from. So it’s really a great place to be no matter what business you’re starting!
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