Are you a java connoisseur who’s been stuck sipping the same old blends in a COVID-created coffee rut? Have you already sampled every brew Uncommon Grounds has to offer, and loved Death Wish Coffee, well, to death? If so, you’re in luck: Saratoga Springs–based coffee club Upstate Coffee Collective (UCC) recently released its own self-described “drinkable as heck” flagship coffee blend, All Day ADK.
The new blend was created in partnership with Nick Furnia, co-founder of coffee e-wholesaler Knockabout Coffee Roasters and Ballston Spa’s Nomad Coffee and Crepes. The smooth-bodied coffee’s flavor, which boasts notes of dark chocolate and cherry, were inspired by cool mornings camping out in the Adirondack Mountains, and its name is a nod to the popular craft beer brand, All Day IPA, from Founders Brewing Co. (though the Michigan-based brewer had no part in the production of the coffee blend). “It’s very drinkable, and something that’s approachable for somebody with little coffee expertise,” says UCC co-founder Matt Pfeifer. “It can be sold to somebody my parents’ age, who’s been drinking the same cup of coffee for a while.”
UCC began as a passion project for Pfeifer and his friend Kevin Miner back in March 2019. Pfeifer was feeling uninspired by his work as a software engineer, and when Miner, a project specialist at Saratoga’s Kru Coffee, invited him to the shop to try out a new brew, the pair got inspired. From that conversation over coffee grew UCC, a club made to connect coffee enthusiasts. “We want to make craft coffee more approachable to everybody,” says Pfeifer. “We want to get good coffee into more hands and make people understand what makes their coffee so special.” That, Pfeifer says, boils down to factors like the coffee’s country of origin, how it’s roasted and what type of consumers buy it.
To kick off UCC, Pfeifer and Miner began hosting monthly Coffee Meet-ups at coffee shops around the Capital Region, which featured free coffee samples, guest speakers and short lessons. But when the COVID-19 crisis hit this past March, UCC was forced to cancel in-person meet-ups. (They’re currently still on hold.)
Not ready to roll over and let the community they’d built dissolve like instant coffee, Pfeifer and Miner thought up ways to keep the conversation going, and to continue to make craft coffee more approachable. For one, they started the Upstate Coffee Collective podcast, which explores creativity, community and conscious consumerism through the lens of everyone’s favorite bean-based beverage. “We could’ve made a podcast that was just very coffee heavy and talking shop,” Pfeifer says, “[but] we realized early on that it’s much more approachable and fruitful to talk to people with different perspectives on life and interest in coffee.”
Besides the podcast, Pfeifer and Miner also took their first step into the coffee retail business, launching Highlight Roasts, an initiative aimed at teaching consumers about where their coffee comes from. “Whenever we find a coffee that knocks our socks off,” a May 4 @upstatecoffeecollective Instagram post reads, “we work with that roaster to obtain a limited number of bags of that coffee, package it up with a beautifully designed postcard that tells the story of the roaster and the coffee, and ship it right to your door.” The first Highlight Roast was a Typica variety from Ecuador, which was roasted by Hernán Lopez at Albany’s Stacks Espresso Bar and came with information about the coffee’s origins, flavor and roast level, as well as info about Lopez and Stacks Espresso Bar. UCC sold out of its initial online stock of the roast in less than a week, and has since featured blends from Kru and Knockabout, as well as local micro-roastery Constellation Coffee Roasters. Hence, All Day ADK. At the moment, coffee lovers can either buy a single bag for $15 or a monthly “subscription” to the blend for $13.50/month. Either option can be purchased here.