Counter Culture Coffee has established itself as a prominent name in the specialty coffee world, known for its commitment to sustainability and quality. Since its inception in 1995, it has garnered attention from coffee enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike for its approach to responsible sourcing and education within the industry.

Their range of coffee options is reflective of a dedication to both flavor and ethical practices, making it a go-to for those who value the origins and impact of their morning brew as much as the taste. On top of its eco-friendly initiatives, Counter Culture regularly receives positive feedback from customers, suggesting a consistently enjoyable coffee experience.

The brand’s transparency in its business operations, coupled with the high-quality beans it provides, solidifies its place among the best in a crowded market. Whether it is through their direct trade relationships with farmers or through their extensive catalog of unique blends and single-origin coffees, Counter Culture Coffee continues to be a standard-bearer for others in the industry.

History and Ethos of Counter Culture Coffee

Counter Culture Coffee, based in Durham, has been a significant player in the third-wave coffee movement, priding itself on sustainability and transparency. Founded with a clear vision, Counter Culture insists on a commitment to ethical practices and educational leadership in the industry.

Founding of Counter Culture

Counter Culture Coffee was established in 1995 by Brett Smith and Fred Houk. The duo started the company with a pioneering spirit, focusing on delivering custom coffee blends to local southern restaurants of Durham and Chapel Hill. Their first sale was to Pop’s Restaurant in Durham, marking the beginning of a journey which laid the groundwork for a new coffee culture. History – Counter Culture Coffee

Commitment to Sustainability

Counter Culture Coffee embeds sustainability at its core, with transparent reporting on their social and environmental impact being a cornerstone of their business. They embrace an ethos of real social, environmental, and fiscal sustainability, filtering all decisions through this lens to ensure their operations benefit all stakeholders involved. This dedication to principals has been an essential part of Counter Culture’s identity from its inception. About Us – Counter Culture Coffee

Counter Culture Coffee Products

Counter Culture Coffee offers a diverse selection of expertly roasted coffees, featuring unique single-origin options and harmonious blends, including decaffeinated and specialty varieties that cater to a wide range of taste preferences. Their commitment to quality is evident in each product, whether you prefer the complexity of a single-origin or the consistent flavor of a blend.

Single-Origin and Blended Coffees

  • Single-Origin Coffees: These coffees are sourced from specific regions, providing distinct flavor profiles unique to their respective terroirs. Coffee enthusiasts can explore the nuances of taste from different parts of the world.

    • Example: Apollo highlights the brightness and vibrancy often associated with African coffees, particularly those from Ethiopia.
  • Blended Coffees: Counter Culture’s blends are crafted to offer a consistent flavor profile, combining beans from various origins for a balanced cup.

    • Blend Highlight: Big Trouble, with its caramel and nutty notes, offers a medium-dark roast that appeals to those seeking a full-bodied, yet smooth coffee experience.

Decaf and Specialty Selections

  • Decaf Coffee: For those avoiding caffeine, Counter Culture provides decaffeinated options without compromising on flavor.

    • Noteworthy Decaf: Slow Motion Decaf – A rich, medium roast with organic status that maintains its flavor complexity even without the caffeine.
  • Specialty Coffees: These selections include unique, limited-time offerings or coffees that meet specific criteria, such as sustainability and organic certification.

    • Featured Specialty: The Forty-Six roast is known for its darker quality without excessive oiliness on the beans, adhering to the principles of specialty coffee.

Counter Culture Coffee spans the spectrum from traditional, crowd-pleasing blends to adventurous single-origin roasts, ensuring that every coffee lover can find a match to their taste with an emphasis on organic and ethically farmed options.

Coffee Quality and Production

Counter Culture Coffee has established itself as a roasting company that is seriously dedicated to quality coffee and sustainable production practices. They provide premium grade coffee with a staunch commitment to sustainable farming and transparency.

Roasting Process

The roasting process at Counter Culture is a meticulous one, ensuring that the unique characteristics of each batch of single-origin beans are showcased. The company utilizes advanced roasting technology, carefully calibrating temperature and time to bring out the optimal flavor profile in every coffee bean. They’ve refined their methods over more than two decades, tailoring their approach for different coffee beans to achieve a high-quality product.

Direct Relationships with Farmers

Counter Culture boosts the quality and sustainability of their products by forming direct relationships with farmers. These partnerships focus on sustainable coffee practices and allow the company to source high-quality, sustainably sourced coffee beans directly from the producers. By working closely with farmers, Counter Culture enables a more transparent value chain, from the cultivation of single-origin beans to the final stages of production. This approach not only benefits the environment but also ensures that the coffee enthusiasts enjoy the freshest, most ethically produced brew possible.

Education and Community Engagement

Counter Culture Coffee demonstrates its commitment to both education and community engagement through its expansive network of training centers and its transparent reporting of social initiatives. These efforts underscore the company’s dedication to sustainability and quality in the specialty coffee industry.

Training Centers and Courses

Counter Culture Coffee’s training centers are pivotal in their education initiative, offering a wide array of courses that cater to both coffee professionals and enthusiasts. They run the gamut from the fundamentals of coffee brewing to advanced barista skills. Situated in various locations, these centers act as hubs for sharing knowledge and fostering a sense of community among coffee lovers.

  • Location and Accessibility: With numerous centers across the United States, accessibility is a priority, ensuring that more people can participate in coffee education.
  • Course Variety: They offer a spectrum of courses, from introductory sessions on coffee tasting to in-depth training in latte art and brewing methods.

Social Justice and Transparency Reports

Counter Culture Coffee’s 2021 Transparency Report provides a candid look into the company’s operations and its commitment to social justice issues within the coffee industry. The report highlights their efforts in ensuring ethical practices and support for coffee-producing communities around the world.

  • Supporting Farmers: The report details initiatives that affect over 25 million families globally, emphasizing the brand’s commitment to the well-being of smallholder farmers.
  • Sustainability Efforts: It also discusses measures taken to promote sustainability, an element crucial to the mission of Counter Culture Coffee and integral to its industry leadership.

Buying and Brewing Counter Culture Coffee

When selecting and preparing Counter Culture Coffee, one must consider both the variety of offerings and the specific brewing methods to ensure a premium coffee experience. This segment provides guidance on choosing the right coffee and best practices for brewing.

How to Choose Your Coffee

Factors to Consider:

  • Flavor profiles: Counter Culture Coffee features a range of profiles from caramel and nutty to fruit-forward single-origin coffees. One should examine the taste descriptions to match personal preferences.
  • Roast levels: The brand offers everything from light to dark roasts, each imparting unique characteristics to the cup. Lighter roasts tend to have more acidity and brightness, while darker roasts are fuller-bodied with a stronger roast flavor.
  • Coffee origin: The geographic location where the coffee is sourced can greatly influence the taste, due to differences in soil, altitude, and processing methods.
  • Subscription convenience: For regular coffee drinkers, Counter Culture’s coffee subscription service is a practical choice, delivering fresh coffee directly to one’s doorstep.

Popular Picks:

  • Single-Origin: Ideal for those who enjoy the distinctive tastes of specific coffee-growing regions.
  • Blends: Perfect for coffee lovers looking for a balanced cup with consistent flavor.

Best Practices for Brewing

The method used to brew coffee significantly affects its flavor and strength. Here are some techniques for common brewing methods:

French Press:

  • Use coarse-ground coffee to ensure an even extraction and prevent a gritty cup.
  • Steep for around four minutes before pressing for the optimal balance between flavor and body.


  • Fine to medium grind works best for a clean, full-flavored cup.
  • Experiment with brewing times, but generally aim for one to two minutes.


  • Medium-fine ground coffee is ideal to achieve a clean and nuanced flavor.
  • Maintain a steady pour and consistent water temperature throughout brewing for the best results.

Espresso Machine:

  • A fine grind is necessary for a proper espresso extraction.
  • Tamp evenly and firmly to ensure water passes through the coffee uniformly, extracting full flavor.

In summary, understanding both your coffee preferences and the appropriate brewing method for your