In the past 10 years, the coffee industry has experienced a rebirth… something quite different than what Starbuck’s and Peet’s is pouring… it is an artisanal coffee movement which is called Third Wave Coffee. The movement is comprised of small independently owned coffee roasting companies and coffee houses that have redefined coffee connoisseurship. Their mission is clear; source the beans direct from farmers to acquire the highest quality and flavor, roast the beans in a manner that will develop their unique characteristics, and create the best cup of coffee ever to be tasted.
The San Francisco bay area has been on the forefront of this new coffee phenomenon with one of the founding companies of Direct Trade in San Jose…Barefoot Coffee. Barefoot Coffee is passionately sourcing, roasting, and pouring coffee for all those who will taste. Andy Newbom, one of the founding pioneers of the Third Wave Coffee movement, founded Barefoot Coffee in 2003. Today, Barefoot Coffee is owned by Jonathan and Jillian Dolin, and operated by a small group of trained and certified coffee professionals that shared their passion and knowledge with me of their favorite brew.
Barefoot Coffee directly sources their beans from farms in seven countries. Direct Trade is mutually beneficial in many ways. Barefoot Coffee employees make annual trips to some of the seven countries to work with the farmers. This working relationship fosters sustainability for the land, better working conditions for employees, growing the highest quality beans possible, and Direct Trade pays the farmers 25% more for the beans than Fair Trade. The knowledge Barefoot Coffee learns from this relationship is an intimate knowledge and understanding of the bean’s origin that play a vital role in final selection and ultimately the roasting of the beans.
The coffee bean is actual the seed of a fruit, which the industry calls the fruit “cherries.” Each red cherry produces two green coffee beans. The red cherries are processed in one of three ways: the traditional way of drying in the sun, water processed to break apart and wash away the outer pulp of the fruit from the bean, and honey processed, which utilizes less water but leaves behind some pulp. The honey process is a new method that ultimately impacts the cup character.
Barefoot Coffee’s three roasters, David, Patrick, and Nicolle, lovingly roast small batches of beans in two coffee roasters in their San Jose location. They believe in roasting their high quality beans in a way that enhances their natural inherent qualities of flavor. Barefoot Coffee roasts their beans for a light, medium, and full-bodied coffee, but accomplish this without bringing up the internal bean temperature past 310 degrees, which enhances and maintains the bean’s natural flavor characteristics – this is what makes their roasting process unique. The roasting of the green coffee beans actually transforms the beans to a caramelizing state, which is the artistic crafting of coffee roasting. Each shipment of beans received is methodically put through a series of roastings and tastings to achieve the desired cup of coffee. Like wine, coffee has over 6000 taste notes that describe its flavor, as well as language to describe body, acidity, and balance characteristics.
Also like wine tasting, Barefoot Coffee has a coffee bar for tasting their various coffees. Their barista Vito prepares samplings of coffee, which include a tasting of 2 to 3 different varietals and espresso samplings which contrast how it changes with milk. Vito, or the roasters, can discuss with you how coffee beans are affected by terroir, elevation, climate, country, farm, and processing, which all impart on the distinct flavor notes. I had the opportunity to taste their coffee at their bar and found it to be extraordinary…unlike I have ever tasted before. The coffee possesses a variety of flavor notes that can be described as bright and clean such as blood orange, green apple, peach, and guava. Or more deep and complex flavor notes such as chocolate, butter, root beer, fig, and nougat. Barefoot Coffee also brews and bottles a “Cold Brew” that is delicious over ice. For a real treat for coffee aficionados, they offer classes on espresso making and coffee bean roasting. And, tasting coffee at Barefoot Coffee’s bar is much more affordable than what you would pay at other popular coffee shops…and a lot more fun…leaving you with a serious caffeine buzz! No worries, they roast decaf coffee too!
Barefoot Coffee sells their products at their headquarters in San Jose, wholesale, on line, and in retail cafes. Presently there are two Barefoot Coffee cafes, which are located in Los Gatos and Campbell, where you can experience their coffee tasting and espresso samplings. These establishments are traditional cafes serving single cups of coffee and light food items. They also sell Barefoot Coffee’s packaged beans for home brewing. Barefoot Coffee’s future plans are to open more coffee houses.
Barefoot Coffee (headquarters, roasting facility, and coffee bar)
76 Sunol Street
San Jose, CA 95126
Coffee Bar hours: Thursday to Saturday, 9 AM to 2 PM
Barefoot Coffee (café and retail sales)
15567 Union Avenue
Los Gatos, CA 95032
Barefoot Coffee (café and retail sales)
1819 S. Bascom Avenue
Campbell, CA 95008