Awards lead to brisk sales of Sacramento coffee

Award-winning Insight coffee sells briskly this holiday season.
Award-winning Insight coffee sells briskly this holiday season. Bee staff

The timing couldn’t have been better for Sacramento’s top coffee houses, as recent national recognition by tastemaker Coffee Review has triggered a holiday sales rush for high-end, locally-roasted beans.

Last week, Old Soul and Temple startled the coffee world when two coffees from each company were named to Coffee Review’s prestigious 30 best coffees of the year round-up.

With four out of 30 coffees, Sacramento led all cities in the United States on the list – and plenty of people noticed. The attention also led to a front-page story in The Bee. Since then, roasters have been working overtime to keep pace with demand. They’re roasting and bagging. They’re packing gift boxes, making mailing labels, tying ribbons and making frequent trips to the post office.

At Old Soul, the shop packaged three 12-ounce bags of its top-rated coffees in a gift set selling for $69 (plus shipping), and sales have exceeded expectations, forcing the company to buy more boxes and placing a cap on how many could be sold.

“It just went absolutely insane and it continues to be insane,” said Old Soul co-owner Jason Griest. “From Dec. 5 to today we have sold three times as many online orders as we have for our entire first five years in business. It shows me that people are paying attention and that Coffee Review and The Bee are bigger platforms than I had thought. We have been shipping out coffee to not only Sacramento but to 35 to 40 states in the last three or four weeks.

“The gift boxes were sold online, and we got a huge response from the Sacramento area, but a lot of it was from outside the midtown grid – Carmichael or Folsom and a lot of people from the foothills. Ryan (Harden, the head roaster) and myself have been roasting easily 14 or 15 hours a day. We’re definitely burning the midnight oil.”

Old Soul temporarily sold out of the Nicaragua Los Congos (No. 29 on the Coffee Review ranking) and recently reconfigured the gift box to add a different lot of that coffee. The new boxes will be priced the same and sold in the Old Soul shops.

At Temple, which has been been more active in online sales in recent years, the acclaim has meant even more sales right before Christmas, said owner Sean Kohmescher.

Often, Temple’s top-rated coffee are sold out by the time mainstream coffee drinkers hear about them, leading to frustrated customers.

“Our new thing is telling them that they need to buy the coffee now that they’re going to wish they had next year,” he said.

One of Temple’s prized coffees, a rare geisha style, is for sale now for $62 per 8 ounces (yes, that’s $124 a pound) and, despite the whopping price, is selling briskly. Kohmescher said people are buying multiple packages of the coffee to give as Christmas gifts.

“Geisha is a very hard to grow varietal,” he explained. “It doesn’t grow well in all places. It’s more rare. Geishas have a softness and an elegance to them. They’re very silky coffees. They’re a very cohesive coffee.”

Coffee Review described it as “immense, intricate. Honey, roasted cacao nib, orchid-like flowers, layers of fruit (banana, mango, mandarin), pungent sandalwood in aroma and cup.”

So how does Kohmescher recommend preparing such a pricy cup of coffee?

He said to use the Aeropress inverted method with a coarse grind and steep for 4 minutes before pushing down the plunger (after you turn the Aeropress right-side up!)

While its coffees were not on the top-30 list, Insight is also enjoying a flurry of Christmas sales. It is doing a $30 gift set featuring the same Nicaragua Los Congos coffee Old Soul is selling. Insight’s set offers three different processes – washed, honey and natural. Each has a distinctive flavor profile. The package includes a rundown of each process, along with cupping notes.

Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.