Get Something Brewing

How one tech startup is helping the world understand coffee just a little better

For Jeffrey Borack, coffee is more than a jolt of caffeine in the morning: it’s his life’s work. And it’s a community.

By founding the online coffee club Angels’ Cup, Borack has made it possible for coffee aficionados and newbies alike to sample more than 200 different types of coffee from around the world, all made with the finest beans, and access tasting notes and ratings from fellow members.

Borack’s business keeps him on his feet. In just a few short years, he has grown his membership base, improved his technology, and has begun to form partnerships with small, independent coffee roasters. Here’s how he did it.

The Morning Grind

Most people limit their coffee drinking to the morning, but Borack waits ‘til a bit later, knowing that each day may present the chance to sample as many as 12 different varieties. “Personally, I don’t drink coffee in the early morning. I actually wait until we do a tasting of coffee flights,” he says. It goes without saying that he’s not drinking ho-hum supermarket java, either, but rather unique beans that have distinct flavors and hail from all over the globe.

Bold Beans

Borack’s been on an Ethiopian and Kenyan kick these days, and remains fascinated by how the two African countries have embraced different coffee-bean production techniques. “With the Kenyan wash process you get a coffee that has a raisin flavor. Some say it even tastes like tomatoes,” he says. Meanwhile, most Ethiopian coffee beans are prepared naturally. “Natural coffees have a very prominent and identifiable flavor. It’s very fruity—your eyes almost light up when you first sample it.”

All in the Family

With Borack and his fiancée, Abby, and the company’s two full-time employees, Angels’ Cup, which launched in 2014, is still a family affair. The duo manages shipments, customer service records, and coffee partnerships with dozens of roasters. “If you think about it, coffee is extremely complex, and yet it’s extremely cheap. With our subscription, you can try some of the best for as little as $1 to $3 per cup,” Borack says.

Origin Stories

Borack sources from fertile coffee-growing regions and countries around the world and favors single-origin beans, meaning they come from one specific farm and purely express the flavors and characteristics of their region. “Right now, countries like Colombia are experimenting with natural processed beans, and they’re doing it in ways to produce a more flavorful cup of coffee,” Borack says.

Precise Brews

Let’s face it: Life’s just better with coffee. And with KitchenAid coffee brewers, espresso makers, grinders and accessories, you can make the perfect cup. Start with the KitchenAid Burr Grinder, which offers 15 grind settings for a variety of brew methods (after all, everyone has a favorite). Then, move on to the KitchenAid Precision Press Coffee Maker, which has an integrated scale and timer to precisely brew a bold, full-bodied coffee. Talk about a #daymaker.

Technology Talks

Borack is as obsessed with technology as he is with coffee. Angels’ Cup has expanded from a website to an app, making it easy for subscribers to share feedback and comments. “We want to grow technology and make it easier for people to compare ideas within a community,” he says. There’s even an informative Angels’ Cup podcast.

Palate Pleasers

Borack is constantly testing new coffees, and he wants his members to do the same. Each shipment has four coffee samples, allowing recipients to sample different beans side-by-side and fostering what Borack considers the ultimate goal in coffee education: a sense of taste for variety. “We’re trying to teach people to sense taste and trust their own palate,” he says.“It’s kind of like sampling wine.”

Fresh Obsessed

Borack’s busiest day of the week is Friday, otherwise known as packaging day. “We basically spend the whole day packing coffee,” he says. Then it immediately goes out the door for shipping. “We do it because we are obsessed with freshness. We want each delivery to reach you just a few days after the coffee comes to us.” Ultimately, Angels’ Cup wants to develop a consistent supply chain with brick-and-mortar retailers.

Think Local

Angels’ Cup has found ways to partner with local Brooklyn roasters like City of Saints Coffee Roasters. And by putting product in front of a coffee-obsessed audience, they’re helping smaller, independent roasters gain a national following. “This partnership is really great for us because it connects us to customers far away,” says Joe Palozzi, a head roaster at City of Saints.

The Perfect Cup

The key to the perfect cup of coffee is always—always—freshly ground beans, Borack says. From there, it’s all about the brew method, which is totally subjective. Beginners might start with a plastic filter that sits atop the mug. Advanced brewers might use a siphon, which resembles something akin to a chemistry experiment. “We always include a brew guide for each individual coffee,” Borack says of Angels’ Cup shipments. “You’ll be able to see how grind setting, water temperature and brew process can change the taste.” The key, of course, is to find one that speaks to you.

Passion Project

Borack’s love for coffee started when he was in college and would experiment with coffee in his dorm room. “It has been rooted in my experiences since a very young age,” he says. And that’s a large part of why Angels’ has been so successful. “Ultimately, we’re helping our subscribers develop a sharper sense of taste for coffee. Every time that we make a business decision we always ask, ‘Will this help our customer appreciate the product better?’” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then Borack and his team move forward with the new idea.