I drink coffee every day, but I don’t identify as a “coffee person.” I remain devoted to dark roasts and think that brewing contraptions, thermometers and precise measurements are far too much to ask of someone before they’ve caffeinated with the coffee they’re trying to brew. While I can appreciate a great cup of coffee, I can also happily drink mug after mug of burnt sludge at the local diner on a weekend morning. Which is to say: I’m not fussy.
I’m wary of trends that might over complicate something that I enjoy as a simple pleasure, so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy Steeped Coffee, a local company that sells coffee in a tea-bag-like single serving. It turns out we are on the same page as far as keeping things easy.
As I tore open their fully compostable packaging, the smell of freshly ground coffee filled my nose—the nitro-sealed bag keeps the coffee, which is roasted and packaged locally, as fresh as if it was ground moments ago. Normally when I grind my coffee, the noise triggers my cat’s “fight or flight” response and she sprints from the kitchen in terror, but not today. Already, it’s Steeped Coffee: 1, conventional: 0.
I slipped the little bag of coffee into a mug and poured hot water over it, dunking it a few times as a crema formed in the bag. Five minutes later, I took a sip and tasted a delicious, fresh, aromatic cup of coffee. No mess to clean up, no fancy glass carafe to wash by hand and maybe break in the sink.
How could such a simple concept be so cutting edge, I wondered. According to CEO and Founder Josh Wilbur, “Some of the simplest ideas are the most difficult to achieve. The more you try to simplify something, the more effort goes into it.” Everything from the quality of the coffee to the filter that lets flavor out but keeps grounds in, to the proportion of coffee to water, has been painstakingly perfected and Specialty Coffee Association-approved. “Is this good enough for coffee snobs? Absolutely. Is it as good as going into a coffee shop? Yes,” asserts Wilbur.
While other single-serving options can be highly wasteful, Steeped Coffee is a B-Corp certified business. “We’re legally allowed to worry about purpose and not just profit as a company and do things different,” says Wilbur. “We’re trying to do business without compromise.”