Kayak’s gets even more local
A change in ownership looks to alter the way Washington University students and Skinker-DeBaliviere residents think about coffee.
Earlier this month, Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co. assumed control of Kayak’s Coffee. The name, alpine ambiance, food and employees will stay the same, but Kaldi’s is dedicated to introducing its locally roasted, Fair Trade Certified coffee to the menu and training full-fledged baristas to serve the java.
“It was a great opportunity to pursue,” Kaldi’s owner Josh Ferguson said. “It’s a phenomenal location. It’s a great location for us to connect with the local residents and to continue our relationship with Wash. U.”
While Kayak’s already served Fair Trade Certified coffee, the change from Milwaukee, Wis.-based Alterra Coffee to locally roasted coffee aims to enhance flavor and further social responsibility.
“Kaldi’s has been a part of fair trade for many years,” Ferguson said. “We recently started a program called Kaldi’s Relationship Coffees. With our relationship coffees, we are working directly with farmers to make sure that they receive 15 to 25 percent more for their coffee than even with the fair-trade organizations.”
In addition, Kaldi’s uses a micro-roasting technique. All beans are roasted by a single roastmaster in batches lighter than 150 pounds. The small batches assure that a single roastmaster can produce premium coffee by feel, without the aid of monitoring machines.
With the coffee change, Kaldi’s brand coffee becomes the only option from campus to the Loop, except during breakfast at Subway. Students are grateful that the Kayak’s environment will not change, but the new coffee will be compared to the Alterra blends.
“I go to Kayak’s more for the ambiance and people who are there,” freshman Sarah Garay said.
Some students are concerned about the change in coffee brands.
“I go to Kayak’s for the coffee after I pull an all-nighter,” sophomore Preethi Kembaiyan said. “Kayak’s coffee [was] much better than the Kaldi’s they serve on campus,” Kembaiyan mentioned the belief that Kaldi’s coffee around St. Louis is superior to the coffee on campus.
Mike Frazoni, a Kayak’s employee, thinks that it is too early to tell how the change in coffee beans will impact the café, but he has seen some quick improvements. Kayak’s now offers two special blends a day instead of one blend a month, and customers seem receptive to the change.
“They’re [the customers] exploring with different types of coffee,” said Frazoni, who noted the popularity of a special Ethiopian blend.
In addition to functioning as a coffeehouse, Ferguson stressed that each Kaldi’s café also provides community engagement and educational events about coffee, programs that should expand to Kayak’s.
“We have cupping, which is kind of like a wine tasting [for coffee] that we do weekly in the Kaldi’s cafés, and we would like to introduce them to Kayak’s so that people can come in, be a part of that and learn more about the specialty side of the coffee industry,” Ferguson said.
With these subtle yet important changes to Kayak’s, Kaldi’s hopes to continue its mission of serving premium, hand-roasted coffee so that its customers enjoy the best coffee and espresso possible.
With additional reporting by Jack Marshall