I’m going to admit up front that my relationship with coffee is complicated. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a thing for McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee along with whatever they are serving at a local pancake breakfast down by the beach.
When I’m at a lake house in northern Michigan it’s all about Folgers as that’s what we’ve been drinking there for years and it’s the perfect blend for the atmosphere and I thoroughly enjoy it. All that said, my pedestrian taste makes an occasional visit to one of the trendy coffee shops around coastal North County or stumbling across a new small batch startup like Wipeout Coffee — quite a treat. Revolution Roasters was my introduction into the world of local roasters and it took my appreciation of coffee to a whole new level.
It’s been a few years since that heightened exposure and while on my regular stroll through the Leucadia Farmers Market recently I came across one of Wipeout Coffee’s founders Juan Ayerza. He was sampling his coffee like any good vendor and I was a fan from the first sip. Juan is a student at MiraCosta College and his partners are fellow students and surfers Martin Flores Piran and Mike Gutierrez.
Wipeout Coffee is based in Encinitas with a coffee industry connection (who happens to be Juan’s uncle) in Oceanside where they roast the best quality organic beans they can source. His uncle has been working in the coffee business for almost 25 years as a broker with a company called Cerrogrande based in Redondo Beach along with the roasting facility.
Juan hails from Argentina and moved to the U.S. five years ago with that uncle who is the coffee broker and the primary reason for the venture. Along the way Juan lived in Mammoth Lakes for two years while studying at Cerrocoso Community College. After that he made the move to North County, starting out in Oceanside, then landing in Encinitas. That’s where he connected with his partners and Wipeout Coffee was born.
As Juan puts it, they chose the name Wipeout Coffee because “we wanted to relate it to our passion, which is surfing, and also we wanted to assimilate it to something funny and imperfect, like a wipeout, like life, which sometimes have bad moments, but sometimes is better to take it with humor.” He added, “When we created the logo we wanted to generate a feeling of adrenaline on people but in a nice way; so we thought about the mug creating a big wave, and a guy falling from very high, but in a cartoonish way.”
Well, being a marketer and surfer I think their brand has obvious coastal potential but also could connect with landlocked folks as a place they aspire to as a lifestyle brand. I’m getting ahead of myself here but you get my point.
So, besides the cool surfer connection, there has to be some substance behind the Wipeout Coffee brand or I would not be telling their story. Well first off, they source highest quality organic beans. Their objective is a line of non-bitter, very smooth, drinkable coffees and they have accomplished that nicely. They offer Organic Espresso, which is a bold and non-acidic blend and a dark roast of course, along with an Organic Costa Rica medium roast that is fruity and smooth, and my favorite the Organic Guatemala that is chocolaty and nutty. Organic Peru, Organic Colombia and Organic Decaf round out the mix.
The thing about brands like this that put so much effort into their sourcing and roasting is that it elevates coffee into an experience, rather than just a beverage to begin your day with. When I bring home a bag of locally roasted beans from a Wipeout Coffee or similar, the experience begins when I can’t stop smelling the bag. It gets better when I open the bag and immerse my nose into it, soaking in that whole bean aroma. Next up is the grinding of the beans that emits a different, and even more compelling scent.
The final two stages of the gourmet coffee experience happen when that timer goes off at 5:30 a.m. and the scent of brewing coffee wafts its way through my house, into my bedroom, and makes me want to get out of bed on one of these chilly Encinitas mornings we’ve been having.
I hate to say this, but sometimes, as good as that first sip is, it’s hard to compare it to the pleasures of the nose that the previous steps produce. That’s why it’s important to me to support these young coffee entrepreneurs who are so passionate about their craft.
You can support these young surfers/students/coffee roasters by purchasing their stuff at Eve Encinitas & Oceanside, Vital Climbing Gym, Concept Surf Shop, Jojo’s Creamery, Seaside Market and the farmers markets in Oceanside, Leucadia and Del Mar. It should be noted that 5% of their revenue is donated to nonprofit organizations devoted to clean local beaches in San Diego County.
Find them at www.wipeoutcoffee.com.