Robbie Peck has the kind of founding story for his company that reinforces the artisanal cred that is fueling its growth.
Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, which owns Java Shack in Courthouse and is opening a new flagship cafe in Pentagon City, started as a mom-and-son operation in Culpeper, Va., a coffee shop where Peck was the barista and his mother was the chief coffee roaster.
From those beginnings Peck founded Commonwealth Joe with one coffee roasting machine and three friends from college. A few years later, and now he’s just a week or two away the culmination of a lot of hard work and investment: the opening of the first Commonwealth Joe-branded coffee shop.
Located next to a new Whole Foods on 12th Street S., just two blocks from the Pentagon City Metro, the cafe will feature the company’s most popular product: nitro cold brew coffee, which is smooth, dark and served out of a keg — the Guinness beer of coffees.
In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we learned that Commonwealth Joe’s nitro cold brew was the result of keeping a close eye on coffee culture in New York and other trend-setting coffee cities, in addition to a lot of experimentation.
We also learned:
- It takes quite a bit of effort to pedal a tricycle outfitted with a coffee keg up a hill
- Though Peck is competing with Starbucks, he credits the company for paving the way for smaller coffee companies like his
- Contrary to the experience of other small businesses, Peck says he hasn’t encountered much trouble from Arlington County on regulatory and permitting issues so far
Our podcast sponsor is Crystal City, which is hosting its annual Pups and Pilsners beer tasting event this Sunday from 2-6 p.m.