Written by Lalaine Ignao • Photography by Michael Amico, Live Nation • December 19, 2016
The “fourth wave of coffee” is here, and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt are surfing it with a passion.
The Oakland, California rock stars and self-avowed coffee fanatics have taken their fascination with the stuff and turned it into an environmentally minded business venture. “We’re all extreme coffee lovers,” Dirnt told the East Bay Times.
For years, they experimented with coffee roasting, bringing in small batches of beans and working with friends to develop and refine their ideal blend. Eventually, the idea dawned on them to make their coffee available to others, and their Oakland Coffee Works was born.
But if they were going to bring their pursuit of making a “damn good cup of coffee” to the public, they wanted to do so in a responsible way. As the OCW site puts it, “it’s not just about making great coffee, it’s about doing business differently. It’s about uniting our passion for coffee, the environment, and community to make a difference in the world” as they “search for the highest quality cup of sustainably grown organic coffee.”
That approach is what fourth-wave coffee is all about. “First there was diner coffee, then there was Starbucks and then came the third wave – what I call ‘skinny jeans’ or artisan coffee,” Dirnt says. “But this is the next level: organic, high-quality coffee that fairly supports the farmers who grow it and that comes in compostable packaging.”
That last part—compostable packaging—is a big deal because it’s the first of its kind. Working with partner San Francisco Bay Coffee Company (owned by the pro-sustainability Rogers Family Company) and some innovative bio-plastics manufacturers, the team developed 100% compostable coffee bags and even compostable K-cup coffee pods.
Meanwhile, Oakland Coffee Works’ Fueled by Love initiative works to improve the communities where OCW coffee is grown. To date, this has meant working with local partner Crescendos Alliance to help make water, medical services and educational resources better and more available to farmers and their families in areas of rural Peru.
Oakland Coffee made its debut on the market in December 2015 and is still growing. And it’s notable that while founders Armstrong and Dirnt are said to be involved in all the details, their names are nowhere on the packaging. Rather than rock-star vanity, they appear focused on doing business in a sustainable and ethical way—all while making a damn good cup of coffee.
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