Kayak’s gets even more local

| Managing Editor

Kaldi’s Coffee recently purchased Kayak’s Coffee just northeast of campus. Kaldi’s will replace Kayak’s coffee with Kaldi’s own coffee, but will keep the rest of the menu the same. (Josh Goldman | Student Life)

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

  • Scott

    I have been a customer of both Kaldi’s and Kayak’s. While both are good, you should really seek out GOSHEN COFFEE. Best coffee in the St. Louis area, also the only 100% organic coffee roaster in the area. I think Pi serves Goshen.

  • rc

    It’s makes sense that people look to fair trade certified products as a guide for responsible consumerism, but it’s important to consider all the requirements for certification as well as the limitations it creates…here’s a decent article about the “fairness” of fair trade – please pass it on!

    http://www.stwr.org/imf-world-bank-trade/is-fair-trade-coffee-just-a-marketing-scheme.html

  • Jason

    I would have preferred Northwest or Shaw’s to move in next door. Kaldis is probably the third best locally brewed coffee. It is never good on campus. I liked it better when it was Starbucks.

  • Glenn

    I have found the coffee at both Kayaks and Kaldis on Demun to be excellent. The coffee at the library Kaldis is a notch down and sometimes it’s poor; I’ve poured out a cup or two. It’s not the beans — I don’t think the staff in the library Kaldis are properly trained.

    Not well informed either. There is a sign saying Fair Trade but if you ask about it — for instance, is all the coffee there fair trade? — they don’t have a clue.

    (Both Kayaks and Kaldis have been great in advocating fair trade coffee but in general we have a serious problem of greenwashing. You can put up a sign saying “fair trade” even if most of your product is conventional. Or you can just claim it is when it isn’t — happens all the time.)

  • Steve Howerton

    Maybe Kayak’s will finally start serving a decent cup of coffee. Every time I’ve been there recently, I’ve gotten a pretty mediocre lukewarm product.