Coffee is shipped whole bean to ensure freshness and flavor.
Hidden House Coffee,based in San Juan Capistrano & Santa Ana, California
When you spend 4 years in the U.S. Marines, deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, and don't know what's next for you in the civilian world, what do you do? You start your own business, of course, which is exactly what Ben Briggs did, the owner of Hidden House Coffee.
This is a story that is approachable and relatable. It began with a simple idea to open a mom and pop shop, one with sandwiches, ice cream, and coffee, ya know, your standard local cafe experience where you can sit and work, befriend the neighbors, or just chill out and watch life move around you. In fact, Hidden House Coffee wasn't started with the intentions of being a nationally-recognized coffee brand. Ben humbly shared with me that his vision began knowing absolutely nothing about the specialty coffee industry, and naturally, HHC had no identity or culture when it first opened back in 2010. He even confessed that one of his biggest mistakes throughout the process of finding success was expanding TOO quickly, and he and his crew actually scaled down from 4 locations originally, to now 2 booming locations in San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana, California. In those first few years, as the HHC family learned more about the industry, they started to value higher quality products, and at one point, even served coffee from other local coffee roasters. After a few bouts of trial and error in business ownership, Ben and his crew decided to buy a roaster in 2013, and before the roaster was even installed, Ben booked a plane ticket to El Salvador to start sourcing coffee. Ever since, they have been pushing to get better and better at what they do, and today, 30 employees later, Hidden House does all of their own roasting, bakes all of their own pastries, and prides themselves on having a "service first, product second" value system. As I've personally discovered in getting to know a few of the HHC folks and their loyal followers, people LOVE them and their little yellow house. The community they get to build through their shops is sourced by connecting with other humans, being warm to every guest that walks in, serving with a smile...and it just so happens that they roast some damn good coffee too. If you're in SoCal, don't leave without paying a visit to one of their cozy cafes, followed by some kick-ass eats at Dear Lacy, Ben's newest project!
The Coffee / Words from Jon (Green Buyer)
"When it comes to green buying the formula is simple. Work with importers you trust, exporting coffee from farmers you trust. We have certain people we buy the same coffees from every year. We also work with companies that are VERY transparent with their work at the farm level. One particular company works with 4,500 different producers in the countries they operate in. The estimate that they have impacted more than 50,000 peoples lives in coffee growing countries. That is something very important to us, but not the only thing we value. The coffee also has to be delicious. If both of those boxes are checked, we are happy. With the specialty coffee industry still being young and small, the industry is very relational. As the buyer, I work very closely with our importers, making sure were getting great coffee all year round. Once they understand the vision of HHC, they spend time trying to match us with the best coffees to fit our vision."
Pictured from left to right: Shane (Wholesale Director,) Lee (Roaster,) and Jon (Green Buyer & Roaster)
The Farm / Xavier Garcia, Cotacachi, Ecuador
Xavier has been producing coffee for 7 years, but up until 1 year ago, he had no idea that his coffee had a high potential to be commercialized as specialty coffee. He started producing coffee because he was looking for a consistent product that would help him receive fair incomes so he could improve his quality of life. However, in previous years, the associations and coffee merchants were not being fair on prices, coffee was not profitable for him, and payments were delayed, which was very upsetting for Xavier. His motivation was decreasing, and in fact, during the years that he was receiving low prices for his crop, Xavier had never tried his own coffee, he didn’t appreciate the product at all, and he felt it wasn’t even worth even tasting. This changed when he discovered that he could produce great coffee and sell it to companies that would offer him better prices. 2017 was the first time that Xavier tasted his own coffee, after he took a sample to the Caravela warehouse and they gave him a cup to taste. When he returned to his farm, he took a small sample, roasted it, and tasted it again. In this moment, Xavier became motivated and realized the coffee was not as bad as he thought.
PRODUCER: Xavier Garcia
ELEVATION: 1700 MASL
FLAVOR PROFILE: Tropical, Green Grape, Graham Cracker
This coffee is clean and sweet. Tropical juiciness is balanced by a sweet graham cracker finish. A malic acidity drives the cup and keeps you coming back for more. We’d recommend this coffee for batch brew, pour over, or single origin espresso.