The finest cup - Piccolo style... (updated Feb 2007)

Vancouver B.C. -- Vince Piccolo is no fool. Fact is, he has always had his hand on the pulse of the caffeinated nation - that's you and me folks!

Vince (and his new company at 49th Parallel) have paid a pretty penny for bags of some of the Planet's finest coffee beans on a program called Cup of Excellence.

The Piccolo brothers, Vince and Sammy and Mike, have always taken a more challenging road when it somes to avoiding the "other big guys" of the coffee scene. For the end consumer of finer bean, there is only win-win.

Some historic numbers: Mr. Piccolo and Co. have teamed up with an Australian company to pay a paltry $49.75 (U.S.) a pound during Brazil's seventh Cup of Excellence Internet coffee auction. The old Brazilian record of $13.65, which was paid by a Japanese roasting company in November, 2004. Broken!

According to the youthful Vince Piccolo, five dollars for a cup of coffee is not really going to scare anyone away - at least not the kind of people that have come to expect the best from the Piccolo's solo Vancouver area outlet on 4th Avenue. As Vince says, 5$ will buy a really, really bad glass of red wine (and one heck of a cup of coffee it seems!).

Some of The Beans: This classic Bourbon arabica coffee was grown by Francisco Isidro Dias Pereira of Fazenda Santa Ines in the mountainous Carmo de Minas district of Brazil's Minas Gerais state. Six of the top ten coffees (at auction) came from the same district in the prime real-estate of the south Minas coffee growing region.

Vince likes the flavor. I trust Vince. You will too!

The Market: Vince and I agree on a number of key things: Vancouver is near ground zero where cafe culture is concerned. Add Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington and you have the Tri-Cities of Java. There isn't a more sophisticated region of coffee drinkers in North America. It is just that simple.

The Customers: Recently polled 49th Parallel customers agreed - "There is no question whether or not we would pay five bucks for the perfect cup... none at all. Look, you can go to the competition and pay more than five dollars for a Vente something or other that contains virtually no coffee at all!" An 49th Parallel regular was more succint: "Do I need to queue up for this experience? If so, where!?"

The Future: A Victoria cafe and bakery owner commented today: "Some people worry that we are going down the road to a higher average price per cup. While that might be so, it is a good thing for the farmers and coop owners whose access to newer tools and commerce(these internet auctions) give them a better bottom line."

From the CoffeeCrew perspective: we have been watching cafe culture and the gourmet coffee revolution for over ten years now. Vince Piccolo's latest stroke of business acumen serves everyone well - it gives consumers more choices and offers a better quality of life for the farmers and families in the coffee business.


Colin Newell lives and works in Victoria, B.C. Canada. When he visits Vancouver, British Columbia, Cafe Artigiano, Prado, The Elysian Room and the 49th Parallel Cafe are designated stops (and often one of his last stops before heading home to Victoria.)