“Coffee doesn’t have to be transactional,” Michael and Kayla Hinkle, Founders of Whink’s Coffee tell me. “If you are going to drink it every day, it should be great coffee.” Michael and Kayla are native Virginians with a love of high-quality, single-sourced coffee that supports farmers and sustainable growing practices. They recently launched Whink’s Coffee, an online store with coffees to help locals brew a great cup of coffee at home. Through their newly launched online store and blog, they hope to educate people on great coffee and quality home brewing methods. I had a chance to speak with Michael and Kayla to learn a little more about Whink’s Coffee and their future plans.
How Michael and Kayla Began Their Coffee Journey
Michael and Kayla fell in love with coffee during their time at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Like most college students, they were drinking a lot of mass-produced coffee and the popular, high sugar drinks. However, they soon discovered Black Sheep Coffee in Harrisonburg which stocked third wave coffee. The Black Sheep Coffee team introduced them to a better way to enjoy their favorite brews. They soon fell in love with coffee and café culture. “There is a lot of comradery among coffee drinkers,” Michael explains. “Since discovering Black Sheep Coffee, we have traveled the world to experience coffee and have found that the café culture crosses all boundaries.” “We would have highly caffeinated days,” Kayla adds. “Coffee is a fun way for us to experience new places as tourists.” After graduation, Michael and Kayla moved north to Alexandria, Virginia where they currently live and married in 2016. Experiencing the coffee shops in DC helped them discover more about their new city. Soon, they introduced better brewing methods at home and today have may ways to brew coffee.
What is Third Wave Coffee?
Modern coffee production is generally presented in 3 different waves. The first wave, which spans from about 1940 to 1980, includes tin coffees like Maxwell and Folgers. The second wave arrived with the introduction of Peets Coffee and Starbucks and drove more direct sourcing from farmers. Today, the third wave features more specialty coffees. The relationship between sellers and famers is much closer. Labels often include the region and altitude of where the beans grew. Third wave coffee also focuses on a single source for the coffee. This means the coffee comes from one farm and does not blend other beans. You will also generally find more lighter coffees in this category.
What does Whink’s Coffee hope to teach people about coffee?
Kayla and Michael hope to help educate people about third-wave coffee and the coffee supply chain. Great coffee can be hard on coffee bean farmers. Today, many farmers are adding other cash crops to help sustain their farms. Whink’s coffee strives to create relationships directly with farmers to help increase awareness and support these small businesses more directly. Whink’s Coffee is also committed to donating 5% of their profits each month to a rotating list of nonprofits that support their mission. They hope to support both local and international groups who support sustainable business practices, empowering farmers, and uplifting minority voices.
Great Coffee Can be Brewed at Home
I asked Michael and Kayla to share their favorite coffee drink to make at home expecting to hear about very fancy or complicated drinks. But as many coffee aficionados have told me before in my own travels, Kayla and Michael told me black coffee is the way to go. They told me that black coffee can be one of the best ways to enjoy it if it is thoughtfully prepared. They recommended using the Chemex coffeemaker to brew the beans for a clean, crisp taste. “You are drinking the seed of a fruit,” Michael explains to emphasize that if the farmer knows how to grow and roast the beans well, it can produce a wonderful cup of black coffee. Kayla added that oat milk cortado was one of her go-to drinks with milk added. “A cortado is mostly espresso so it allows the coffee to shine through,” she explains. They both agree this drink is the best of both worlds when it comes to coffee and milk. “Coffee is very much like the wine industry,” Michael adds. “But people don’t think of it that way. The flavor dissecting of the drinks is very similar.” Michael and Kayla hope to use their blog to help people learn more about different kinds of coffee and home brewing methods. They see coffee as an accessible hobby as most materials to get started are inexpensive.
Where can I find Whinks Coffee?
Whink’s Coffee sells two different types of coffee as well as some swag through their online store. There are no immediate plans to open a shop but they are excited to explore the idea of pop-up events in Alexandria once the pandemic is over. Keep up with their blog to learn more about coffee and get ideas for drinks you can make at home. Follow them on Instagram @whinkscoffee for the latest news.