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Morning Addition: Counter Culture Heads Up the New NPR Coffee Club

NPR Coffee Club

At Counter Culture Coffee’s Bay Area training center. 2015 photo by Christy Baugh, courtesy of Counter Culture Coffee.

As the rare larger specialty coffee roaster with no retail cafes to speak of, Counter Culture Coffee has managed to find favor among untold numbers of quality-focused coffee shops throughout the United States, and by extension, the homes of coffee aficionados.

The Durham, North Carolina-born coffee brand is likely to find its way into thousands more homes almost overnight, as it has become the partner in the brand new NPR Coffee Club, a subscription service with a portion of all proceeds benefitting NPR programming. 

All things considered for Counter Culture, the partnership seems to be providing a breath of fresh air.

“We are thrilled to work with NPR on this exciting initiative,” Counter Culture President and Founder Brett Smith said in an announcement from NPR this morning. “For 25 years, Counter Culture Coffee has been focused on providing exceptional coffee experiences. This partnership allows us to highlight our commitment to quality, sustainability, and education; values that closely align with NPR and their loyal listeners.”


A Counter Culture Coffee triaining center in Los Angeles. 2016 photo by Laure Joliet, courtesy of Counter Culture Coffee.

Counter Culture, which in 2005 was named one of Roast magazine’s inaugural Roasters of the Year, is indeed among a handful of forebears in the quality-focused Third Wave coffee movement. The company has also been a steadfast proponent of the concept of “direct trade,” with the goal of forging more sustainable long-term relationships with producer partners.

The roasting company, which maintains 13 training centers for wholesale clients and public education throughout the United States, has also published annual transparency and sustainability reports that routinely go above and beyond those of most other roasting companies its size.

As its wholesale business has no doubt been dealt a blow due to retail shutdowns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the direct-to-consumer connection through the NPR Coffee Club gives members access to most or all of Counter Culture’s roster of year-round and seasonal blends, as well as rotating single-origin coffees, plus single-origin offerings that are exclusive to club members.

NPR listeners become members automatically upon signing up for one of the subscription options, which involve a 5% discount plus free shipping compared to individual purchases through the club site. Members can also choose the volume and frequency of coffee in their subscription.

NPR Coffee Club

The NPR Coffee Club pin. NPR Coffee Club promotional photo.

While not sharing the exact numbers publicly, NPR said simply “a portion” of proceeds from the sales — which will be processed for coffees roasted-to-order by Counter Culture — will benefit the media organization’s programming. All new members also receive a free NPR Coffee Club enamel pin.

In many ways mirroring the existing CCC website, the NPR Coffee Club website also serves as a resource and coffee education guide for consumers, with extensive information about the coffees, the groups and people who produced them, brew guides, public tasting events, and more. View the club website here.