Handsome Coffee Roasters have had a busy first 9 months: 2011 saw the former Intelli gents met with fanfare, acclaim, major media coverage, mockery, and the blogatorial implication they're The Backstreet Boys of coffee. And you know that saying, about how imitation is the highest form of flattery?
Meet Handsome Coffee Company, of Albany, Georgia! There's not a lot of information available about them on the web – just the above Facebook page, and an invitation to join them weekends at the Downtown Albany Market – but surely it won't be long before the page 2 blogs and major media muchachos come fawning their way down I-19, past Leesburg, all the way to mighty Albany.
For the sake of fairness, let's outline the differences between these two Handsome coffee concerns. Is there room enough in the world for more than one Handsome Coffee? Or is this just another grand coffee naming mix-up, in the spirit of Stumptown.com vs. Stumptowncoffee.com. (Meanwhile, feel free to @tweet Intelligentsia about their role in the Marxist dialectic, and keep sending your annotated copies of the Tibetan Book of the Dead to those hippies at Counter Culture.)
Handsome Coffee Company vs. Handsome Coffee Roasters
Handsome Coffee Company – 2011
Handsome Coffee Roasters – 2011
HCC = Albany, Georgia (pop. 77,434 – 9th largest city in Georgia)
HCR = Los Angeles, California (pop. 3,792, 621 – 2nd largest city in United States)
HCR = Charming, easily navigable website, featuring online store and location finder.
Where to try:
HCC = Available at the Downtown Albany Market.
HCR = Available with variable regularity at specialty cafes across America, including Cafe Streets in Chicago, Coffee Bar LA, and RBC NYC. Complete listing here.
HCC = “Organic Fair Trade Single Origin Coffee from around the world,” such as Sumatra and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (further details unavailable).
HCR = A two-bean espresso blend comprised of Guatemala La Providencia and El Salvador San Jose, select single origin microlots including Santa Barbara Honduras and Kenya Ruthagati AA.
HCC = Offering coffees flavored with Inbru, a 100% biodegradable and compostable flavoring additive made from sterilized rice hulls, artificial aromas and “extractives.” Flavors include “Nutcracker Sweet”, “Danish Pastry”, “Pumpkin Pie” and “Highlander Grogg“.
HCR = Company started by three former Intelligenstsia employees, including 2010 World Barista Champion Mike Phillips, the only American to ever win the title. Offering a rotating “Roasters Choice” selection, curated by roaster Chris Owens.
It sounds like Mike, Chris and Tyler down at Handsome Coffee Roasters are in for the fight of their lives. It could prove difficult for them to compete with the “Nutcracker Sweet” option at HCC, where one man's extraction is another man's “extractives”. That said, we have no evidence w/r/t the physical attractiveness of Handsome Coffee Company, while the boys at HCR have been willing to prove the aptness of their moniker in photographs, caricatures, and via personal visitations to their amenable admirers at cafes around the world.
What will 2012 hold for Handsome(s)? Will Handsome Coffee Roaster's long-awaited coffee bar truly be the American answer to Prufrock Coffee's menu simplicity and design clarity? Will Handsome Coffee Company expand to farmers market locations beyond the Albany / Leesburg / Putney metroplex? Will HCR be the chic coffee of choice for this year's slate of USBC competitors? Will HCC's “Nutcracker Sweet” blend garner exhaustive NYT coverage from Oliver Strand?
Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: 2012 is a heck of a time to be Handsome.