Breyting Community Roaster: A Revolutionary New Wave of Caffeine & Philanthropy

 

Growing up I hated—nay, loathed—coffee even in its most basic form. I’m not sure when that switched flipped (uh, likely college), but now I can’t live without it. Full stop. Like, if I don’t have a coffee (with honey and half-n-half) first thing in the morning—you can expect absolutely zero brain synapses firing/meaningful effort/dialogue. Fuller stop.

When I discovered Starbucks—circa 2000—I bought both daily foo-foo coffee drinks and  stock in the company. (I would be a comfortable kajillionaire today if I hadn’t sold it. Meh.) But then I found my true passion—finding local coffee houses on the road and obsessing over them like a crazy person. That still rings true today.

Schneider and me backstage in Fort Lauderdale in 2019.

Now, if you know me, you know the other thing I am fanatical about is my undying love of The B-52s. I cherished that group long before I became a fully formed coffee addict. So when I found out frontman Fred Schneider had become a partner in a fledgling roastery just outside Orlando—well, I had to know the who/what/when/where STAT.

Turns out Fred is a co-java junkie. His alliance with Breyting Community Roaster—a civic-minded coffee company­—started just a few years ago. (He sealed the deal with co-owner Von Coven over a bottle of white wine—because, of course, he did. That’s how all businesses should be founded. Screw handshakes.)

Schneider & Coven

Eager to learn more, I kibitzed with Fred via phone in the midst of the pandemic—whilst he was hunkered down in his Long Island digs. He mentioned how the caffeinated co-op was an ideal fit given that he and Coven had an ongoing 25-year friendship—one that blossomed into a coffee collaboration. Breyting—which is Icelandic for “change”—started as local communal coffeehouse striving to make a gigantic global impact. Since they opened the doors, they’ve seized every opportunity to ensure that happens. For instance, the coffee company donates 10% of proceeds back to local growers in Laos, which is where the shade-grown and organically grown beans are harvested. “They use it for anti-venom for snakes and to get rid of all the bombs we dropped on Laos during the Vietnam war,” says Fred. (The entire backstory can be found on Community Roaster’s website. Read more here.)

When I got off the phone with Fred, I was determined to visit Breyting to see what all the fuss was about. Of course, by the time I made it down to lovely DeLand, Florida, the Sunshine State was essentially closed. Stupid global health crisis. But Coven and his stalwart crew very kindly masked up and opened the doors for me and a smattering of friends to showcase just exactly what they bring to the table—figuratively and literally.

Chef/Coffee Meistress Jordan Inthirajvongsy shows off her mad skills.

When you walk in the door, you can tell the party is about to start. The hyper-quirky artwork complements the ambient mod-fab (and outdoor lighting-friendly) mood of the place. The roastery’s coffee bar seats a mere ten or so people, but the menu—which features a kindred connection with other artists and causes—is inspired. It’s as if a professional barista and head bartender got together and had twins that turned out to be a hippie pastry chef and vegan grocer—and they all collectively work together on the Breyting commune.

During the VIP tasting experience, we were plied with so many coffee-infused or freshly squeezed concoctions, I lost track after, like, the sixth one. Each was a zingy, neon-colored libation—”an ever-changing kaleidoscope of moods and colors” as Fred sang in the B’s Detour Thru Your Mind. The food, meanwhile, was nom-worthy, gluten-free, vegetarian fare. The day we visited I downed a brie/mushroom quiche and tart-astic elderberry tart—and that was just for starters.

Coven gives us the 411 on Breyting’s upcoming projects

When you come to Breyting, don’t come in a rush. Everything is hand-crafted, baked and curated with love—so if things take a hot minute, be mindful. Take a moment to peruse the space—including the novel Change Studio where their projects are immersed in projects. Breyting’s Change Studio works with people, businesses, organizations, and schools to collaborate on innovative concepts and projects. The goal is producing positive economic, social, and environmental change, within the roastery and society at large.

If you like your coffee with cream and philanthropy, you’ve stumbled into the right place. I have yet to discover another javahouse that uses coffee as a catalyst to inspire, create, and support positive change as much as Breyting. They offer a virtual online coffee fundraising program to help support worthwhile organizations, causes and missions. It easy, effective and helps organizations achieve their funding needs, which, in turn, funds the roastery. The approach works, simple as that. It’s exponential progress one cup of joe at a time.

And, of course, if you’re a bonafide B-52 fan-atic like me, Fred even has his own eponymous java collection. His blends explore the connection between artistry and coffee culture. It’s the perfect meld of visual arts and taste—or as he says, “the creation of a joyful, multi-sensory coffee experience.” According to Fred, his original Monster!  version started as a concoction of a couple different blends of coffee. (Fans will note the name came from a song off his 1984 solo album.) Now there are about a dozen different brands on the horizon—“one being rolled out every quarter,” says Coven.

Coven chats us up.

Next time you’re in Orlando, take a spin out to DeLand. It’s got a vibrant artist and music scene—a definitive mecca much like Athens, GA, back in the late 70s/early 80s where Fred found his groove. (Interestingly enough, DeLand’s nickname is “The Athens of Florida.” Seems fitting.)