Provided by Blur Coffee
The Washington, D.C. Metro area’s latest coffee company has opened for business. Specializing in exotic coffees from Vietnam, Prince William County-based Blur Coffee is rapidly carving out a niche, even in a crowded coffee market.
“The coffee we sell is fundamentally different. It’s really unlike anything being sold in the D.C. area,” says founder Jon Jenkerson.
“What makes us unique are really four things. First, our coffee is grown in Vietnam. You’ll be hard pressed to find Vietnamese coffee in the United States.
“Second, we blend different species of coffee beans. We sell blends comprised of Arabica, Robusta and Excelsa coffee beans. By blending different species of coffee beans, we get flavor profiles that are fundamentally distinct from the vast majority of coffee sold in America.
“Most coffee sold in America is 100 percent Arabica only. This frequently results in bitter and/or acidic coffee. Our coffees have a smooth, chocolaty taste with no bitterness or acidity.
“Third, we slow roast our coffees at low temperatures to extract the best flavor profiles.”
Fourth, Blur places a premium on environmental sustainability and generous wages. “We direct trade, which cuts out the middleman and allows us to work directly with small farms in Vietnam. This also allows us to offer better than fair trade wages.”
The idea of opening a coffee company, much less one specializing in Vietnamese coffee, might seem strange given that Jenkerson has only been drinking coffee for about the last five years. “I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was in my thirties. I was living in Tokyo but frequently traveling to the United States for work.
“Tea had been my source of caffeine, but it was hard to find in the United States. And, to keep myself awake, I forced myself to start drinking coffee. I really didn’t like it. It was so bitter and acidic – it might as well have been battery acid. I could only drink it if it was loaded with milk and sugar.”
But that all changed during a vacation to Singapore in 2014.
“My family and I visited Singapore for Christmas and we came upon a Vietnamese cafe. We stopped in and had traditional Vietnamese coffee, which is slow dripped into sweet and condensed milk. It blew my mind. I had never had coffee like that. There was no bitterness or acidity and it had an amazing chocolaty flavor.”
After moving back to this area in 2015, Jenkerson found that while there were many coffee companies in the area, they all sold the same types of beans from the same countries. “I’ve visited almost every roaster in the area and they all sell the same type of coffee – 100 percent Arabica, grown in Central America or Africa. I don’t want to suggest their coffee is bad. Some people really like the bite and the flavor profiles that pure Arabica has, but most people don’t. That’s why people load their coffee up with so much milk and sugar. They are trying to mask the acidity and bitterness.”
It was the lack of diversity in the coffee market that led Jenkerson to create Blur Coffee.
In the months that followed, Jenkerson and his wife, Noriko, painstakingly blended the beans to get the best flavor profiles. Along the way, they have also taken steps to build their business connections, joining the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, attending educational and networking meetings and reaching out to community business leaders.
“We’ve been very lucky to work with some great people along the way who’ve been willing to educate and guide us to this point. Entrepreneurship is a team sport, and those relationships are critical.”
Blur currently offers its unique blends at blurcoffee.com and through Amazon. They are ramping up to sell to retailers and distributors, and at local farmers markets, as well.
“We think there is a pent up demand for coffees that aren’t harsh, bitter or acidic,” Jenkerson said.
“The reviews have been positive. Customers say it’s the best coffee they’ve ever tasted.”
You can find out more about Blur Coffee on their website (blurcoffee.com) and follow them on Instagram (blur.coffee), Twitter (@blur_coffee), and Facebook (blurcoffeeDC).