A Good Cup of Coffee with Mavericks Jordan Brown
Dec 22, 2015 08:19PM ● Published by Brandi Barnett
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Roasted to OrderDecember 2015
By Jordan Venema
Photos: Jacki Potorke
It’s no secret that some small coffee shops hold a perpetual grudge against Starbucks, that green corporate machine. But not Jordan Brown, owner of Visalia’s Mavericks Coffee. “Starbucks,” he says, “and some people won’t admit it, is actually good for businesses like this. It created the market for us.”
In the same way that Folgers paved the way for Starbucks, so Starbucks paved the way for roasters like Brown, who belongs to a movement known as third-wave coffee roasting, a kind of craft-batch backlash to the mass-market profiteering of larger corporations. If these roasters had a slogan, it might be “coffee not commodity.”
Third-wave roasters are an off-the-beaten-path bean-roasting bunch, which is why it was almost providential that Brown settled upon Mavericks, a name that conjures images of anti-establishment individuals. But none of that was intentional. Brown had never heard the term third wave. He just wanted to roast good coffee.
But when Brown opened Mavericks in 2003, he also felt he was doing something unique. “I felt a lot of coffee shops have kind of a quasi-Mediterranean feel to them, and I wanted to do something a little different. My dad has been into western memorabilia since I was a kid,” says Brown, “so that leaned me to the western motif.”
Mavericks tend to go against the grain, anyway. Brown explains that when old ranchers “found cattle that didn’t have a brand, it was called a maverick.” In that sense, a maverick means “you’re your own person, your own entity.”
Brown got into roasting almost by accident. “It just kind of happened,” Brown says. “I was looking for a job just to get through college.” He began working for a Carmel business called Caffee Cardinale, where after a few months, he began managing operations. “I’d handle almost everything, so that’s how I kind of learned the business.”
Through his college years, Brown acquired both a knowledge and taste for coffee. “Back when I was in high school, Starbucks wasn’t around,” so he didn’t even drink coffee. “But once I got into it, I enjoyed the nuances of it.”
So when Brown moved back to Visalia to open his own shop, it wasn’t the roasting that worried him – it was the business side of things. “I knew a lot about coffee, so I wasn’t worried about that, and creating a brand, I felt comfortable.” But when it came to starting a business, “I really had no idea what I was doing,” Brown says with a laugh.
Like a true maverick, however, “I’ve always been somewhat of a risk-taker,” Brown says. Plus, he had his family to motivate him. “Without my wife and son and parents,” says Brown, “I wouldn’t be anywhere. They are the reason behind the shop.”
Now a decade and some 18,000 roasts later, Mavericks is one of the longest-running roasters in town. There may have been days when it was hard to wake up early, but having his own product at the ready probably helped. “If I had opened a mattress store, then I’d really be in trouble,” Brown says with a laugh. “There’s nothing like coming in early when you’re tired and firing up the roaster, having a cup of coffee.”
Which is really what Mavericks comes down to: a good cup of coffee. “I wanted to introduce what I thought was as good as coffee in Carmel to Visalia,” says Brown. And he thinks he’s done that. “Just this morning we had some German tourists come through and they ordered some cappuccinos,” Brown says. “The mother came up and said, ‘Best cappuccino in the United States.’”
Before it was cool and trending in cities like San Francisco and Oakland, Brown brewed his coffee by the cup, “so it’s always fresh.” And since he roasts his beans on the spot, you know that any of the 32 roasts sold at Mavericks were made in-house.
And though he opened his shop a little off the beaten path, quite literally, way on the southeastern side of Visalia on Caldwell, it hasn’t hurt him in the long run. “It’s built up a lot around here over the last 12 or 13 years,” says Brown. Anyway, he was glad it wasn’t too busy when he opened. “I was fairly young, 27 or something like that, and I don’t think I could have handled it,” he laughs. Now, he’s got people driving across town just to get his coffee, because sometimes it takes a little effort and legwork to
Mavericks Coffee • 238 E. Caldwell Ave., Visalia
(559) 624-1400 • www.maverickscoffeehouse.com
Mon. 5:30am-noon, Tues.-Fri. 5:30am-3pm, Sat. 6am-1pm
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