Peter Cohen and David Pocost, co-owners of Stringbean Coffee Company in St. Louis, Mo., let their progressive values lead the way for their products. The Fair Trade and organic specialty coffee company sponsors an orangutan in Indonesia, and acts in support of local groups and causes with equal enthusiasm. Cohen told Daily Coffee News, “Our business model is Ben and Jerry’s.”
It seems to be working out for them quite well. The company founded in a garage in 2011 has recently upgraded its production environs for the third time, growing from a previous space just shy of 700 square feet into one more than three times that size.
The new 2,200-square-foot Stringbean roastery in Brentwood includes a 1950s-diner-inspired tasting room that not only hosts prospective wholesale clients but also the general public for events that range in function from coffee educational to recreational and musical. The space will host live music, yoga, roasting demos, tastings, group bike ride launches, and whatever else might bring the local community together for a wholesome time.
“It has a groovy, rock-n-roll vibe,” Cohen said of the facility that features a refurbished vintage gas pump and musician-themed artwork on the walls surrounding counters equipped with a La Marzocco Linea Mini, Chemex and siphon brewers, a Yama cold brew tower, and more.
The “string” element of the company’s name of course takes after those found on guitars and basses. “The plan all along was guitars and coffee,” Cohen said of the dual focus that has evolved to include the manufacture and sale of their own line of guitars and basses, a line which currently includes nine instruments with several more in development.
“The bodies are being built in Missouri. I get the necks and hardware from all over the country, and they’re built and assembled in St. Louis to my specifications,” said Cohen, who’s just as proud of the original Soul Train disco ball — in use on the show from 1972-1978, during which time it might have reflected down upon Michael Jackson’s first broadcasted moonwalk, according to Cohen — that hangs over their roaster as he is of the 25-pound-capacity San Franciscan itself.
Greens sourced with help from Coffee Holding Company and Organic Products Trading Company (OPTCO) are brought to full sweetness and origin character expression in the medium-light to medium-dark range, stopping well short of the emergence of any burnt notes.
“We follow the bean. We don’t do anything super light or super dark,” Cohen said of the Stringbean roasting aesthetic. “We’re not fans of the first-crack, third-wave ultra-light stuff.”
In their new digs, Stringbean Coffee intends to continue growing its whole-bean retail and wholesale business, which now includes more than 100 stores and clients, while doubling down on their commitment to being a connected and vibrant member of the St. Louis food scene.
“Will we have café? We don’t know. Right now it’s David and I, there are 22 coffee roasters around St. Louis and we’re the old guys,” said Cohen. “We are living the dream, and we’re having fun doing it.”