What makes a good cup of coffee? Is it the taste? Is it the experience? Or is it something greater?
California transplant Andrew Rowe was 23 when he started Rowe Coffee Co. as a pop-up bar with a few friends. After years of offering pop-ups at events, Rowe is starting the next chapter in its expansion in Fort Wayne.
This month Rowe Coffee Co. is now offering a pop-up coffee shop experience inside the Urban Attic Pop-up Shop in the East State Neighborhood (2329 Crescent Ave.). The pop-up is taking place throughout the month of February from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday.
“Our slogan – ‘doing good coffee for the greater good’ – that was kind of what we base all of our decisions on,” Rowe said. “From hiring somebody or from choosing the pour-overs to how we’re sourcing the beans.”
After immersing himself in literature, classes and video tutorials, Rowe has continued to research ways to make beverages better.
“I started looking at ways to source coffee more responsibility, more ethically, more consciously,” Rowe said.
As a result, Rowe explored topics like human trafficking and slavery in coffee’s supply chains.
“We want make sure everything is ethically sourced,” Rowe said. “Before I chose Yellow Cup [Coffee Roasters] as our primary roaster, I had asked him to give me some details on how he knows that child labor and slave labor is not used.”
Rowe worked with Yellow Cup to develop the Rowe Coffee Co. blend. The blend, which is 50 percent Ethiopian and 50 percent Colombian, pairs well with milk. Rowe performed numerous taste tests to find his signature blend. Rowe estimates he went through five-to-six Ethiopian samples before he found the perfect blend.
In addition to seeking out ethically-sourced products, Rowe Coffee Co. also donates ten percent of profits to Charity Water, a non-profit organization with a mission to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. In 2018, Rowe Coffee Co. helped 18 individuals get access to water.
After this month’s pop-up, Rowe hopes to eventually develop a full-scale coffee shop by 2020. In this space, customers will be able to experience interactive coffee culture right in the ’05.
“I’d love to see a community built around Rowe Coffee Co. and this space specifically,” Rowe said. “I really want to be bringing together the coffee community, as well.”
Rowe envisions activities like latte art throwdowns and coffee competitions. With interactive events, local coffee shops and baristas can learn and grow together in this field.
Rowe also has been surprised by how much support he sees in Fort Wayne after coming from a more competitive coffee culture in California.
“One of the first things we noticed was how nice everybody was and how open everybody was to helping us out,” Rowe said. “At first we thought that we were suspicious of everybody, because of how open and how nice everybody was.”
Between fostering a sense of community locally and sourcing products globally, Rowe Coffee Co. may have the ingredients for “a good cup of coffee.”
“If we’re making great coffee, but it’s not making a difference, then there’s no point in doing what we’re doing,” Rowe said. “We want to make a difference.”
Learn more about Rowe Coffee Co. at rowecoffeeco.com.