Everyone had their pandemic experiences. Danielle Moreno spent hers working on a coffee farm in Hawaii.
“I was just trying to relax, and then, of course, I fell in love with coffee all over again,” says Moreno, a first generation Filipino-Mexican-American whose family owns Nanding’s Bakery in Hawaii.
The 10 months she spent harvesting and roasting beans at Hawaii’s Green World Coffee Farm led to a partnership with Virginia’s Aslin, the company behind Aslin Beer and Aslin Wine.
Aslin Coffee debuts this Saturday, November 20, with options by the cup, flight, or bag, as well as wholesale at Aslin Herndon (767 Elden Street), Aslin Alexandria (847 South Pickett Street, Alexandria), and through the soon-to-launch website. The company is also rolling out cold brew kegs this coming week with plans to launch canned coffee soon.
Moreno studied baking and pastry at the Culinary Institute of America before landing at D.C.’s Dio Wine Bar where she really got interested in coffee, set off by the coffee professionals who would come in and taste wine.
“They were so much better at tasting than me. I really do think their palates are above and beyond...it’s just so much more focused and pinpointed.”
For example, if they noticed a salty quality, they would refer to it more specifically as an MSG quality. It’s all part of the Q grader system for coffee that requires a taster to differentiate between five different salts, she explains. Moreno started roasting coffee in her spare time.
Meanwhile, Aslin Brewery had expanded from beer into wine, cider, and mead as well. Wanting to provide non-alcoholic beverages, a foray into coffee made sense.
“Just like beer, Aslin believes coffee brings people together, and that focus on community and innovation will be seen through high-quality beans, customer service, and in-turn your day,” according the the company.
Moreno’s idea of a great coffee brand, or any brand for that matter, is one that educates its customers. In service of that, every bag is covered in little stickers that operate as road signs for what to expect from that bag of beans: whether it’s naturally processed, if it comes from highly caffeinated and highly flavorful peaberry beans, if it’s particularly good for espresso or cold brew, among others.
Beyond that, each bag includes a QR code for a lot more information.
“If I had it my way I would put a novel [on every bag]. I want everyone to know everything. With the QR code you get that whole book report,” including information like what farm the beans come from, how they are roasted, and the thought process behind that blend.
“We’re selling craft coffee, but I want our brand to feel like we’re friends and we’re taking you along with us. We’re not leaving you behind and we’re not not elevated above you.”
In 2022, additional Aslin Coffee will expand to Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh with stand-alone coffee locations selling fresh coffee brewed to drink to drink there or take away, bags to take home for DIY-brewing, and merchandise.