Santa Clara coffee shop introduces new signature roast
February 14, 2019
The Bay Area has seen a boom in specialty coffee shops. Blue Bottle, Ritual Roastery and Philz Coffee have become vanguards of Third Wave coffee by sourcing single origin coffee, refining roasting techniques and developing innovative brewing methods.
Now, Voyager Coffee in Santa Clara is making its move to join that Third Wave. And if a recent visit is any indication, it’s going to be a toprank player.
The First Wave of the coffee movement in the 1960s introduced Americans to instant coffee. Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks led the Second Wave, bringing espressos, lattes and cappuccinos to the public.
By comparison, specialty coffee shops of the Third Wave view coffee as a holistic experience, placing great attention to the whole coffee supply chain. In their view, every player—from the coffee farmers to the customers—in the chain plays an essential role. They emphasize the traceability of the coffee, the artisanship of roasters or baristas and the aesthetics of coffee shops, using minimalist interior designs to give customers an almost therapeutic coffee experience. The Third Wave wants the experience of drinking coffee to be an epiphany.
Yes, I am bringing coffee snobbery to a new high, but a great cup of joe can truly be a transcendent experience. And that is what Voyager Coffee, located on Stevens Creek Boulevard at Lawrence Expressway, has to offer—a coffee experience that challenged my taste buds and shocked my palate.
I’ll admit that Voyager Coffee was never on my list of favorite coffee joints. It had the chic, minimalist design but lacked the originality of a great coffee shop. It was just another hipster coffee shop where Gen X Silicon Valley types hung out.
That is, until last Friday, when Voyager debuted its own proprietary coffee beans with the launch of its Coffee Roastery.
I was amazed almost from the moment I walked through the door. The coffee bar resembled a contemporary art museum. The barista was busy handling a complex brewing apparatus right out of a Silicon Valley R&D lab. His brewing method struck me as something fundamentally new. He explained that the device was called a “Yama Silverton,” a filter cone attached to a water valve that prevents water from filtering through the coffee grounds, letting water seep through the coffee grounds during the brewing process.
Did the coffee live up to the hype of this fancy concoction? Indeed, the flavor of the coffee blew my mind, sending my taste buds to a different dimension. The taste of my Ethiopian coffee resembled an herbal tea, with a flowery and acidic flavor. By comparison, my friend’s El Salvador coffee was gentler and more balanced. It was amazing to taste the distinct flavors of each region’s coffee. The unique flavors of Voyager’s coffee beans combined with the tradecraft of its baristas have elevated the place to a new level.
But Voyager Coffee’s pivot does threaten to go over the brink in one direction: the danger of treating coffee with messianic reverence. Five and a half dollars for pour-over coffee from El Salvador is one expensive cup of coffee for Gas Station Evangelists and K-Cuppers.
Until Voyager Coffee can brew an affordable cup of coffee, it risks becoming just another high-end coffee shop, selling its superior product only to already-converted java snobs like me.
Contact Nicholas Chan at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.