Verve Coffee Roasters Pops Up in Williamsburg

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@vervecoffee via instagram
Ryan O'Donovan and Colby Barr, the owners of Verve Coffee Roasters, met in college at Chico State. They both played vintage keyboards, often in the same bands (but never at the same time). You'd think that would be enough to bond over, but Barr says it was coffee that brought them together.

O'Donovan was working in cafes around the Bay Area and roasting his own beans at home. "He was always ordering crazy coffees and then we started hanging out and tasting them and it became apparent, like, we could make that coffee better than anyone is making coffee," Barr says. "We should do that."

At the time, Barr was doing disaster response work as a consultant for FEMA. "One day I just called him. I was sitting on the curb at the farmer's market and I said, 'Dude, let's start a coffee company.' And he said, 'Yeah, let's do it.'"

Verve Coffee Roasters opened in a small cafe in Pleasure Point on the east side of Santa Cruz, just up the street from a locals-only surf spot called the Hook, in 2007.

Santa Cruz is out of the way--two hours south of the Bay Area, where the closest third wave cafes like it are clustered--but Verve quickly built a serious reputation on its beans. In 2011, when a Long Island City cafe began selling Verve beans, the New York Times dedicated a story to its arrival in New York. (The Times was a little late to the story--Verve actually supplied Cafe Grumpy with beans before Grumpy began roasting its own in 2009.)

Farmlevel: Kenya from Verve Coffee Roasters on Vimeo.

Six years after its founding, Verve's name is now thrown around alongside Stumptown, Intelligentsia, and Ritual in conversations about the country's best roasters, and Barr and O'Donovan have found themselves the unlikely heads of a mini-empire. Verve has opened up two additional locations in Santa Cruz, and another cafe and roastery, based in L.A., is on the way.

Next up: New York.

Details on the next page.


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