Jim Sanford staffs the Hob Coffee booth at the Scripps Ranch Farmerâ€™s Market. (photos by John Gregory)
Wake up and smell that black coffee!
When most people think about a cup of black coffee, they think of a bitter, harsh cup of scalding brew. That image is changing quickly, especially for those steadfast coffee aficionados who have caught on to what is known as third wave coffee.
“You’ll like black coffee. You don’t need to add creamer or sugar because there is so much flavor,” explained Jim Sanford, one of the founders of House of Black Coffee Company, also known as Hob Coffee. “It’s not as sharp … That’s why it’s House of Black Coffee, because we like black coffee. People probably would like it if they got a chance to drink this kind.”
The big difference between normal coffee and what is called third wave coffee is not only the quality of coffee beans, but the fact that the beans must be brewed within a short time after being roasted, Sanford explained.
First wave coffee is the old-style coffee brewed in a percolator, he said. Second wave would be the kind of coffee served at Starbucks, much better than what consumers were used to before that time. Third wave gets into the craft coffee using the very fresh roasted beans, the pourover method and other methods to brew it.
A bean will last for a long time, but it won’t be at its peak flavor if it isn’t roasted soon enough. The beans should be roasted as soon as possible and brewed right away. The challenge is to get the beans at their peak.
Hob Coffee carries a selection of gourmet coffee beans and other third wave coffee items, which can be ordered at HobCoffee.com.
“The bean itself, when it’s not roasted, can last for months. They don’t really change their composition much over time,” Sanford said. “When it’s roasted, that’s when the gases continue to leak out from them, so that really changes the flavor over time.”
Getting the best beans, of course, is very important.
“We like to get a bean that has a really interesting back story,” Sanford said, adding that they recently had a shipment of beans from Guatemala.
“That bean came from this very specific, small village that’s banded together as a cooperative, so we knew exactly who grew it,” he explained.
Hob Coffee was able to purchase the beans using direct trade, which cuts out the middle man.
“It goes from them to your importer to us. It doesn’t just sit in warehouses and bounce all over the country and get traded at auctions,” Sanford said.
The preparation of third wave coffee is as important as securing the right beans. For instance, it’s important not to over-roast the beans.
Grinding the roasted beans is also important. Those who are rally into gourmet coffee craft beans normally have a very good grinder; not a blade grinder that chops the beans, but a burr grinder that really grinds them. That makes a big difference, according to Sanford.
In addition, third wave enthusiasts will carefully perform the pourover technique for brewing, using special devices and gadgets just for that purpose.
“Just brewing the third wave coffee is kind of a hobby in and of itself,” Sanford said. “As a result, the coffee doesn’t taste like your standard cup of coffee that you drink at the office. It’s much more kind of fruity or nutty. … It’s more flavorful.”
Hob Coffee was started by four colleagues who work together at their regular jobs, and are all gourmet coffee fanatics. They would talk about coffee every day and occasionally sampled third wave coffee at high-end coffee shops in the Bay Area when they traveled, Sanford explained.
Eventually, they started roasting their own beans as a hobby. Then they came across a coffee bean importer and soon they considered opening their own shop.
Andy Itaya, one of the founders, is really the catalyst behind the operation, according to Sanford. He’s very excited about coffee,” Sanford said. “He’s very bright. He’s much more into what’s current, more up-to-speed.”
With each of the four living in different parts of the county, they focused on the Scripps Ranch area because it was central to where they reside. But finding a fixed storefront for their shop was not so easy. Instead, they jumped at the chance to become the sole coffee vendor at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market, which is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 10380 Spring Canyon Road.
They are still looking for a brick and mortar location, and have their eyes on a place near Miramar Road, but for now they are enjoying their experiences each Saturday.
“I really like this farmer’s market,” Sanford exclaimed. “The nice thing about a farmer’s market is there’s a lot of people who are looking to try new things.”
Meanwhile, Hob Coffee continues to roast coffee. In fact, the owners now rent time on a huge, expensive super-roaster.
They sell packages of roasted coffee beans and they brew and sell drinks, including cold brew. Other establishments have begun ordering and carrying Hob Coffee cold brew.
All Hob Coffee products can be purchased online at HobCoffee.com.