While bonding over coffee in Seattle, Baltimore-based brothers Aman and Akash Magoon couldn’t help but notice a disparity in the immediate accessibility of high-quality, fresh-roasted specialty coffee between the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast.
“It seemed as though every street boasted an amazing independent coffee shop, each with its own unique atmosphere and take on specialty coffee,” Aman Magoon said of the more mature Seattle specialty market.
This disparity, combined with the brothers’ personal passions for great coffee, led them to a business idea that was fully realized this month in Virtuous Coffee, a consumer-focused subscription service that specializes in single-origin coffees from three major world growing regions: Central America, South America and East Africa.
Subscribers are able to pick one of the origin regions, or all three through the “World Tour” option, then select frequency of delivery. A 12-ounce bag subscription, for example, costs between $21-25, with free delivery to U.S. customers.
Virtuous, meanwhile, works with contracted roasters and importers to source green coffees that are traceable to a single origin, such as a farm or a cooperative. The Virtuous team is involved in cupping and analysis, Magoon said, while relying on the expertise of partner roasters to deliver the roasted goods, which are packaged in Virtuous-branded bags that include vital stats for each coffee including: country of origin; farm or cooperative of origin, tasting notes, processing method, altitude, coffee variety, and roast date.
“Our sourcing process relies mainly on our roaster and importer relationships,” Magoon said. “Once we identify coffees that we like, the roaster identifies the roast ‘sweet-spot.’ We have a network of roasters across the country, and with scale and volume we will activate them to help out with our supply chain. We are currently primarily working with one roaster on the east coast.”
Magoon said Virtuous’ primary goal in relating to consumers is approachability. He cited the Nestlé acquisition of Blue Bottle as strong indicator of considerable room for growth in the specialty market. The focus on single-origin, he said, is one way to better engage people with the coffee they drink each day.
“We believe that single-origin coffee is becoming more and more popular simply because consumers are no longer turning to food and beverage simply out of necessity for nourishment but also as a way to connect more deeply and experience something profound,” he said. “This is what inspires us about the single-origin coffee space: the opportunity to take something that is seemingly mundane to millions of people and turn it into something they can get excited about. Our goal is to expand the base of specialty coffee drinkers by converting existing mainstream coffee drinkers by providing the education and experience they need to enjoy better coffee.”
Regarding the coffees themselves, Magoon said they’re typically looking for coffees that score at least in the high 80s at the cupping table, while also making sure to secure coffees for each of the regions represented.
“Very seldom do we consider price in our buying decisions,” Magoon said. “There have been times where we have fallen in love with a super expensive coffee from South America — and we are willing to pay a premium. We hope that our passion reflects in our product.”
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. Feedback and story ideas are welcome at publisher (at) dailycoffeenews.com, or see the "About Us" page for contact information.