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Coffee Snobbery: A Stimulating Tradition of Excellence (Part 1)

Resident Coffee Snobs, Andrew Wooten (left) and Matt Hobbs (right)

For the majority of Americans, a bit of go juice is a necessity to get through the workday. A product of adulthood, I couldn’t stand the taste of java, until a few years ago, when I left student life and joined the workforce. It’s safe to say I haven’t looked back since. Prior to my employment at SUPPLY.com, I was, and still am, a firm believer in the stovetop moka pot, an Italian classic. While I felt somewhat sophisticated in my coffee consumption, I quickly realized that I had merely scratched the surface following my first day at work. To put it bluntly, the team that populates the dev room (aka the fishbowl) is flatout snobbish when it comes to coffee. At first glance, their high octane pretentiousness comes off as complicated and unnecessary. However, after embracing their passion, learning their process, and tasting their exceptional brew, I’ve developed an appreciation for this group’s commitment to excellence. I was curious to learn who instigated this tradition and recently sat down with Andrew Wooten, E-Commerce Web Developer, and Matt Hobbs, Director of UX, to uncover where it all began.

In the Beginning…

Our snobby story begins in 2012 when the dev room team collectively decided that the distinctly average office coffee consumed by the masses simply would not do. “We all pitched in money and bought a grind and brew coffee maker. It would grind beans up into dust and make okay coffee,” recalls Hobbs. “For a while, we were living in a world with so-so coffee resulting from our adequate production process. But, that’s when I, on my own time, using Batdorf & Bronson beans and a Toddy coffee maker, started making cold brew coffee at my house and brought it to the office in my own vessel. The response to the early introduction of cold brew was overwhelmingly positive. We began to develop, as a group, a more collective taste that skewed away from what I’ll call, ‘the truck stop coffee special.’ Heath, a then heavy consumer of QuikTrip coffee said, ‘This makes QT coffee taste like expletive!’ At this point, Andrew became very invested in this process and started asking questions. I had told tales of pour over coffee in the past and as a result, he went running with this idea and brought in a Chemex and all the accoutrement.”

“When I started back in 2013, coffee was very much a thing, but not as much of a priority at the time. We cared enough not to drink Folgers, but hadn’t taken it to the next level where we were looking for a farm in Venezuela,” jokes Wooten. “I decided to purchase what I’d like to see in a coffee bar and didn’t purchase with thrift in mind. The setup I bought was comparable to an Xbox One in price. I guess you could say I bought the office an Xbox One in the form of rich, smooth deliciousness. Had I tried to expense that, I might have raised some eyebrows in the Accounting department.”

Our Process & the Importance of Single Origin Beans

“I didn’t really know how to properly brew Chemex coffee and initially crafted my process from notes and explanations from Matt Hobbs. I’d never actually gone to Dancing Goats, his favorite café in Atlanta. The closest thing to a coffee shop I’d been to was Starbucks,” he explains. “I found a video from the snobbiest guy I could find entitled, ‘How to make a great cup of coffee with a Chemex coffee maker’ (having since watched that video, he’s not wrong). Every step of the process, from the grind to the pour, is essential, but equally important, if not more, is the quality of the beans themselves. By definition, the whole point of single origin coffee is that each cup is a consistent result of what you expect from each pour. If it’s an actual single origin, all of the beans are from the same harvest and are roasted in the same place. They’re typically fresh, too.”

Andrew and Matt Coffee Snobs 2

Master Taster, Andrew (left) inspects the recent harvest of Austell coffee farmer, Don Matthew (right)

How Our Heroes Became Connoisseurs

Although he credits Matt for refining his passion, Andrew’s appreciation for the perfect cup of joe is as natural as the first time Arnold Palmer picked up a 9 iron. “I never got into beer. You have to acquire a taste for it and I can’t get past the bread taste,” he explains. “Coffee was the exact opposite for me. The bitter, complex flavor I really enjoy, even in bad coffee. While I missed the beer train, I fell in love with black coffee long before I started working here. Caffeine and I go way back. However, I would say, Matt Hobbs has definitely refined my coffee addiction.”

The roots of Matt’s love affair with liquid energy, on the other hand, stem from a gift he received three years ago. “My ex girlfriend, knowing that I was a massive Dancing Goats fan, got me a Scoutmob Handpicked, private tour at the Batdorf & Bronson roastery for my birthday. Following that tour, I started drinking coffee black, learned the difference between different beans, and learned about the positive effect for the families who grow single origin beans. I just gained a tremendous appreciation for the preparation of coffee,” says Hobbs. “I’ve always been a process nerd. I liked microbrews before that because I like beer people and how obsessed they were with the process of making beer; and here, coffee people are even more nerdy. Moreover, you don’t get drunk, you get stimulated. I became extremely pleased with coffee. It all started with that Scoutmob Handpicked, but Andrew is really the maestro of our coffee symphony and I’m a fan of the genre. Now, we’re at this point where we have a highly refined palette as a group. We’re proud to have a diverse rotation of single origin roasts.”

How to Make the Perfect Chemex Coffee

After reading this tale of grandiose presumption, are you intrigued to learn how to make the perfect cuppa straight from the experts themselves?! Of course you are. Stay tuned for Part 2 in which we’ll walk you through the process as well as shed light on some of our favorite beans.

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