On a recent grocery shopping excursion to Central Market Dallas, Roasted was pleasantly surprised when we rounded a corner near the bulk foods section and spotted a display on an end cap stocked with one-pound bags of fresh-roasted beans from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters.
The display was next to the bins filled with bulk coffee, but the award-winning beans from Oak Cliff were the only ones already bagged and sealed to keep the beans fresh. But, other than the bagged-not-bulk thing, what stood out about the Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters display was the way that Central Market was smartly promoting as the coffee as both local and fresh with a sign announcing that the coffee had "Just Arrived!" and was "Locally roasted Wednesday mornings."
So, Roasted bought a pound of OCCR's Victor Prosper's Roast to bring to the office for sampling in the bullpen, and then we placed a call to the coffee roasters to find out more about how this local partnership got its start.
Turns out, the fresh-roasted beans have been on sale at the Central Market Dallas since March, but because the coffee has sold so well in Dallas, the grocer has -- as of last Thursday -- started carrying beans at the Plano location as well.
We spoke with Shannon Neffendorf, who along with wife Jenni started OCCR in March 2008.
"I'd never even thought about approaching a grocery store, they contacted us," he said. "From what I understand, one of their directors had tasted our coffee somewhere, and then had someone contact us about carrying it. Then they called us asking for some samples."
In the end, Central Market chose to stock four selections from OCCR at the Dallas location, which include its Direct Trade Guatemala Finca Villaure, Hidden City Espresso, Rosemont Crest Blend and Victor Prosper's French Roast. And the "roasted-on date" is clearly stamped on each sealed bag of OCCR's coffee -- a major selling point for java junkies who know that the fresher the coffee, the better the resulting brew.
In fact, he said that when the Central Market rep first contacted Neffendorf, promoting the freshness of the coffee was the driving idea behind the partnership.
"They came to us with the idea of selling it in the packages and promoting the freshness of it, which was, for me as a coffee guy, great to see a grocery store interested in doing something like that," Neffendorf said. "It's unique because usually grocery stores are trying to hide things like that. Instead, they're actually promoting it."
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Neffendorf said that OCCR roasts the beans every Wednesday morning and then delivers the fresh-roasted beans to the Central Market locations by Thursday.
"If it keeps going well, then who knows, we could end up in all four stores in the DFW area," he said. But, never fear Cliffdwellers, the independent roasters said they have no plans to stop hand delivering the coffee milk-man style to certain parts of Oak Cliff.
So far today, we've brewed up two French presses of the Victor Prosper Roast for the coffee drinkers in the office to sip. The aroma of the French roasted beans smells fantastic even before the boiling hot water "blooms" the grounds, and, once the samples were passed out, the comments in the bullpen ranged from "It's one of the best I've ever had" to "It's awesome!!" to "This is the real shit!!!"
Roasted couldn't agree more.