A couple of months ago, Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co. caught my attention on Instagram. This coffee has the most beautiful packaging, and as a big coffee fan, I had to meet the man behind this coffee.
Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co – Small Batch Specialty Coffee Roasted on the Island – The Road Less Travelled
Leif Iversen did not become an avid coffee drinker until he ventured away from his hometown of West Tisbury. His relationship with it had many different chapters. He first took notice of this beloved beverage while in Montreal (where he has family), working at an Italian Cafe. He was naive to the coffee culture and just how personal and important it can be for an individual. He began to appreciate how people liked their coffee and made orders with attention to detail, honoring people’s daily coffee rituals.
He began studying Anthropology at Concordia University in Montréal, and then he became a consumer of coffee. Drinking it simply for the caffeine and the fact that it helped him meet the challenges of school. As it became a part of his daily life, he began to appreciate coffee and developed a sense of what was good coffee, searching out the best and trendiest cafes in Montréal.
For University break, he began traveling to remote parts of Costa Rica, staying at youth hostels. In Montreal, Leif was constantly on the go. Life was fast-paced and challenging in Canada. Here in Costa Rica, he could detach from all that business, exhale, feel alive. Here he was the best version of himself. He learned to understand the local expression Pura Vida – pure life, where you live life to live well.
Leif transferred to the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island, B.C. While there, he worked for a coffee shop that was very focused on the quality of coffee. The owner had a passion and dedication that was inspiring. Leif learned about the many variables that are involved in order to extract the best flavors from beans. He understood the importance of the quality of coffee used.
Continuing to spend breaks in Costa Rica, he saw that the coffee culture there was a lot different from North America. Whereas it is often about getting energized from caffeine to function and part of an American routine, in Costa Rica coffee is part of a long, respected tradition in families. Some of the best beans in the world come from the central coffee-growing region here. People take pride in the quality of the beans produced. Coffee is savored and treasured. Afternoon coffee is taken, seated, with friends or family. This time promotes a closeness, a sense of community. Coffee here is not “on the go” or rushed. It is enjoyed slowly and with intention.
While in Costa Rica, Leif met his partner Fernanda. She happens to be from the coffee-growing region of Costa Rica. She and Leif spent a lot of time in the region. Leif learned about the origin of coffee beans and how complex the process to produce coffee beans – from flower to “cherry” to green bean. It is quite the process from beginning to end, not to mention the harvesting.
He drank coffee every day while soaking up the lush, beautiful landscape of the area. He learned that coffee here is woven into the daily life of Costa Ricans, and is much more about friends and family than caffeine. He understood the importance and the tradition, he felt a connection to this way of experiencing coffee. A true enjoyment to be savored.
Introducing Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co.
Leif and Fernanda were living in Costa Rica, having a wonderful time and really enjoying the lifestyle. But, they were thinking about what would be next. Leif had been thinking about coffee. He had learned so much being exposed to Costa Rica’s unique coffee culture. He wanted to bring some of this lifestyle home. Home being Martha’s Vineyard where he grew up.
They both moved to Martha’s Vineyard and Leif began his work on Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co. He knew the farmers, the beans, how to roast them and more. It was time to start his company – which was a year and a half in the making, In September of 2021, Leif launched Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co.
You may have noticed the really clever logo, the Ocean Park Gazebo on top of a stovetop espresso maker. I just love the logo! This was designed by Leif and local designer Jesse Hayes, Creative Director at Anansi + Hayes. Also, some of the wraps around the bag, indicating the roast, features the artwork of local artist Rachael Cassiani, who he went to high school with. Leif sees coffee as a form of art and pairs perfectly with Rachael’s work. Together, you have a beautiful vessel for this special coffee. Expect to see more art collaborations in future batches. Also, the packaging is 60% compostable (soon to be 100%).
Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co – Small Batch Specialty Coffee Roasted on the Island – All In The Beans
Time to “spill the beans,” but seriously let’s talk about Leif’s beans. First though, did you know that coffee has over 800 flavor notes? Wine only has 400. With that said, coffee can be one complex drink. He sources the beans himself, part of the adventure, from small-batch farmers who practice sustainability. He uses beans that are “shade-grown.” This means that the coffee plants are grown in lush, rich areas, not fields that have been cleared. Shade-grown allows for nutrient-rich soil which enhances the unique flavor of the beans on different farms. It also helps the plants be grown organically. The birds and animals are still living in the habitat and thus help keep bugs to a minimum.
With Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co., you can see what farm the beans were sourced from. There is a purity, a transparency in Leif’s coffee. He is proud of where he gets his beans. Now while Costa Rica has arguably the best coffee beans in the world, the growing season is not year-round. Because of that, you will also see beans from other countries in his roasts. Each farm is selected because of the quality of its beans and farming practices.
Leif keeps to a tight roasting schedule on the Vineyard. With his coffee, he is hoping to bring a different coffee experience to the Island. One that encourages you to sip and savor the coffee you drink. A coffee that is roasted with attention, that entices you with its aroma when brewed, and gives you that moment to relax and enjoy the day. It’s an experience for the senses, caffeine is the bonus.
Since its premiere in September, there has been a demand for the coffee at stores around the Island. You can buy Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co. at Katama General Store, Edgartown Meat & Fish, Cronigs (both locations), LeRoux, Alley’s General Store, Beetlebung Farm, Martha’s Vineyard Made, Chilmark General Store, Black Sheep, Orange Peel Bakery, Art Cliff Diner and this summer at Aquila and the Chilmark Flea.
Oh and not only can you find Leif’s coffee at the Art Cliff, but you may also find him there. Gina, the owner of the Art Cliff, is very supportive of Leif’s coffee company. He currently runs the Joy World Coffee trailer at the diner. In the Fall, Leif was there making drinks and helping people learn about his coffee. It was a great way for people to experience the coffee, and see for themselves just how good it is. How a good cup of coffee can be a truly memorable part of your day.
There are a couple different roasts for you to try, I had the Island Blend which is a carefully roasted seasonal blend – sort of a one of a kind if you will and it was nutty and sweet – no oat milk needed for this cup of coffee!
“I want to bring this sense of enjoyment to the island community where I was fortunate enough to grow up. The quality of life here on the Vineyard is hard to beat. The coffee experience should be no exception” Leif Iversen.
Ultimately, Leif would love to own a coffee cafe, but at this moment it would be challenging to have one here on the Island. However, being at Joy World and having a number of retailers carry his coffee, has made him very happy with where the business is at this point.
Leif is on the Island, his home, sharing his love and knowledge of coffee with others. He is a full-time roaster, and the community has embraced his coffee and vision. He is so grateful for the support.
In a world where we are learning to slow down and appreciate the small things more, having an exceptional cup of coffee is a worthwhile investment, and knowing it is responsibly sourced and you are supporting a small business, makes it even better.
I could go on and on about the coffee and the beans but the best thing to do it to try it for yourself. To purchase coffee online or for local pick-up and to learn more, click here.
*I was truly inspired by Leif’s passion and commitment to a better coffee experience. There is so much to love about his journey. I wish him continued growth and success. Grateful for all I learned about coffee from talking with him.
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