Caribbean Coffee: peace, water and process technology

At the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland, brewers from all over the world were bustling to and fro. All of them beer brewers, of course. Well, not quite. Hidden amidst the throng of hop-magicians was a group of coffee specialists from California. Spencer Weiner is one of them – and I found him very easy to talk to – because Spencer is everything you would expect from a cosmopolitan Californian: a talkative, humorous visionary. He gave me a business card from the Caribbean Coffee Company, which read, in capital letters, “PEACE LOVE COFFEE”. Coffee and peace at the Brew Expo? Not something you easily forget, which is why I bombarded Spencer with questions even after I returned from Portland.


Hey Spencer, tell me more about the Caribbean Coffee Company. What is the concept and what does coffee have to do with Peace and Love?

That’s an awesome question!

At the Caribbean Coffee Company, (CCC) we believe that great coffee should be within everyone’s
reach — that was our idea back in 1986, and it
remains true to this day.
Our mission has
been, from day one, to
include a helping hand
and a happy face with every
bean we sell. Our emphasis
on teamwork and cooperative 
effort has created lasting
relationships with our customers that 
are as uplifting and enjoyable as our coffee and teas.
CCC has built a strong reputation for delivering high-quality products and specialized service and support. When I arrived at the company last year to help roll out the Craft Draft, I had just returned from a circumnavigation of the world working with Semester at Sea. This was truly a transformational voyage! I visited 15 countries on that trip, and enjoyed many cups of coffee, and visited coffee & tea plantations in several countries. I was most affected by the simple lives of the people who grow and pick the coffee we enjoy every day. When given the opportunity to help introduce John’s newest creation, (and since I’m a coffee lover) I took the opportunity to introduce a new mantra too: peace, love, coffee.

We’ve met at the Brew Expo – what does a coffee brewer have in common with a beer brewer?

We brew our coffee 😉 – but seriously, our Bona Fide Craft Draft brew is carefully designed to intelligently protect the coffee from corruption during every step of the brew process. (Just like beer brewers, we control water quality.) We love creating the perfect coffee drink and function just like any other brewer, waking up each day thinking about delivering profoundly good coffee, delivered alongside other sustainable bulk brewers through beer distribution channels.

Did you find any interesting technology that can be used for coffee and beer at the same time?

Yes, I mentioned last time I saw you, my mind was blown!
The awesome solutions for getting product from brewery to customer, from vat to bottle to box, were very impressive…. Especially the Krones offerings around packing!

How fast has your business been growing?

We introduced the Craft Draft one year ago, and have been accelerating ever since. We are on track for 0 to 4000 kegs per month in one year.

How important are the raw materials for your coffee? Do you produce organic?

Very important. We source from over 15 countries, and are mindful of ethical sourcing creating real impact. (everyone votes for what they wish to see grow with their dollars) we purchase 100% fair trade, Organic coffee for our craft draft (also Specialty grade, the top 5% of the crop) I use the Latin words Bona Fide in one of logos to represent this.

Coffee culture and beer culture have been rising recently in the United States – what do you think: what has made coffee and beer equally interesting lately?

The coffee renaissance has come in waves, we’re currently in the ‘third wave’.
I believe Bona Fide Craft Draft represents the emergence of a ‘Fourth Wave’ !!!!
Our process, preserves all the flavours of fresh brewed for several months in a nitro-infused keg system. Like craft beer, we are handcrafting > Farm to Cup. I see people really appreciating the hand-made quality of micro-breweries, you really can taste the love…..

The difference is we are innovating a way to treat coffee like a precious commodity. No waste!

What are your plans?

We are growing at a fast clip, since last we spoke, we’re pouring in Oregon, Texas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Arizona, and more to come soon!
We are also partnering with several other roasters to brew their beans. We call this initiative the Bona Fide Craft Draft Alliance.

Perfecting the brewing and kegging process of Craft Draft represents the fruit of five years of research and development, and 30 years of specialty coffee experience. Perfecting nitro coffee is driven by CCC’s desire to be vertically integrated, from sourcing beans to roasting to brewing to kegging and distribution to beverage retailers. This integration ultimately ensures the perfect pour, and we are delighted to share this innovation with other roasters interesting in “pressing easy” and kegging for them (copacking).

Tell me a bit about you as a person – how did you stumble into the coffee business?

I met John (Caribbean’s founder) after the third year of a festival I helped create; he liked what I was up to around sustainability, conscious commerce and brand strategy.
Since I have visited, and sampled coffee in virtually every source country for coffee (as a photojournalist for 25 years) and am naturally a coffee-lover, the fit was perfect.
We have the same sense of humour too.

How important is it for Caribbean Coffee to be sustainable?

See answer regarding the Peace- Love – Coffee mission statement,
And my media campaign to #EndSingleUse, I started using this hashtag a few years ago, it has caught on!

CCC was already committed to strong social and environmental values through ethical purchasing, (this creates PEACE in the world ) and provide coffees and teas that are Organic, Fair Trade and sustainable. I introduced the idea of conscious capitalism …. partner with and support those who are trying to make a difference in this world / Local and global non-government organizations (creating more LOVE) and being at the forefront of a new coffee-consciousness by pioneering our Craft Draft Coffee, brewed with a proprietary process that’s served on tap, tastes great and is eco-friendly. (COFFEE)
Why? Because we believe that Peace, Love & Profoundly Good Coffee is what makes the world go ‘round.

Are you planning to go to the next Brew Expo?

What’s your fave beer?
At the moment, I’m enjoying Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
Davey Brown Ale specifically.

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