"Sail from that safe harbor" Mark Twain
I remember first meeting Brad Ewing of Three Ships Coffee, it was at the Old Beach Farmers Market in Virginia Beach, VA. I try to stop by the market when it's in season and under Terrapin's tent was a guest vendor selling cold brew coffee. I'll admit I had no idea what cold brew coffee was all about. I'm like most people, I have an electric pot at home that I program to brew on a timer. That way our coffee is ready when we get out of bed for work in the morning. I assumed cold brew was a little more involved than that.
After talking to Brad for a bit what I picked up was this: He wanted to do something new in the area and I really liked his coffee.
It's been well over a year now (longer?) and Three Ships Coffee is well known in the area. They have a mobile Slow Bar that prepares their home roasted bean on-site. They're also carried and served in select shops in the area. I discussed with Brad the direction Three Ships Coffee was headed while attending Buy Fresh Buy Local's Farm to Fork the other week. They have outgrown the home roasting operation and will be moving to the Oceanfront in a space that will provide room for people to sip and relax while being immersed in the delicious aroma of hand roasted coffee. They also want to have their mobile operation covering more the Hampton Roads area so there should be an announcement on how that work soon.
To learn more about how Brad and Amy jumped into the coffee scene read Brad's story:
"I am not very good about little blurbs. They are typically long like this ...I have always been into beverages and my first coffee was what my grandma called a "Cowboy Coffee". It was likely 90% milk 10% Maxwell house, but I felt like I was an adult for a minute. In my time out west the local coffee shops in small beach towns like San Clemente and Encinitas were always the centers of the community where you always run into someone you know. The other thing is that Amy and I got into the tradition in our travels to always try the local cuisine. That to us is food, beer, wine, and coffee. I originally wanted to start a woodworking business, but that required too much time. Two things happened that got me real into coffee.
1. Amy asked me to stop drinking beer and whiskey when she was pregnant. Coffee became my pacifier.
2. I bought a growler of coffee at a downtown pop-up food market in NYC to keep me awake on the way home and the rest is history.
While using all kinds of coffee from all around to make my cold brew recipe I learned that coffee has so much more to offer than that burnt tire and dark chocolate. Amy is the secret weapon in all this. Her sommelier's palette and attention to detail have made it look easy. But we put a lot of emphasis on quality control, but what has propelled us forward is that we spend a lot of time tasting coffees from around the globe and researching how the best coffee roasters work their magic. We are small enough that we can make the kind of coffee we love and that has led us to a Nordic Style of roasting that is very unique to our area and only now catching on in big cities.
We think what sets us apart is that we feel its so important to engage people in a conversation about coffee and show them what is possible with coffee. That often means leaving the preconceived notions about coffee behind along with the milk and the sugar. We are excited about expanding our operations in the coming year so that we can have more opportunity to engage more people about the potential of coffee and our local community."
The official copy on Three Ships Coffee:
We are a small batch coffee roaster in Virginia Beach Virginia. We believe coffee creates community and are focused locally to great coffee and a pride of place to our small town.
Our goal is to give our customers a truly different coffee experience. This is achieved with a craftsman's attention to detail in how we source, roast, and serve our coffees. We define a quality cup as one that has a clean and exhibits a high degree of complexity. We are a Nordic style coffee roaster. What this means is that we roast lighter than traditional American roasters to expose the natural beauty and fruit qualities that best represent the coffee growing region where they are sourced. It’s our goal to engage our customers more like a wine tasting and talk them through how we experience each coffee. Our coffees vary based on seasonal harvests to ensure they are as fresh as possible when we roast and sell them.
All our production is done from our home garage and we are regulars at our local farmers markets and pop ups around town in our 1970's camper. Our coffees can be found in select retail locations around town and have been shipped around the country. We are currently building an online store for release in June.
If you see them around town, try a cup. It's light, flavorful and probably very different from anything you've tried before.