Shift Drink Pop-Up events organized by Counter Culture Unite Community for a Cause

Shift Drink sticker, Jesse Gordon and Jonathan Parker from the Durham support team in the background.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, Counter Culture repurposes training centers to provide community service by hosting regular Shift Drink and other events.


BARISTA magazine

Photos from Counter Culture Coffee. Counter Culture Coffee

Through the gloom and isolation of the pandemic’s worldwide spread Some really amazing things were born out of it–gatherings or food items which brought people closer in unimaginable ways. And many of them have stayed on for good reasons. Counter Culture Coffee’s (CCC) monthly pop-up event, Shift Drink, was one of them.

As a wholesale-only coffee business, that is, without retail cafes, CCC has stood out by establishing training facilities across the United States to give its employees and customers a space to meet and learn about workshops and play with the latest equipment, prepare for competitions, or just hang out. There are twelve CCC Training Labs throughout the U.S.: in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., Durham, N.C., Miami, New York, Dallas, Charleston, S.C., Asheville, N.C., and Emeryville, Calif.

In 2020, the training facilities were dark and unoccupied as the country and world went into a state of shut-down. Trevor Clark of the Asheville, N.C., training center determined of interacting with people once more and, perhaps more important, to serve coffee to them.

Shift Drink Begin

“Trevor created Shift Drink in Asheville in the year 2020 to revive the training centre space following the pandemic,” says Counter Culture’s national wholesale education manager, Jenna Gotthelf, who is located in New York. “The Asheville Training Center is located in the Center for Craft co-working space–the building is equipped with a roll-up garage door. Trevor came up with the brilliant idea of opening the garage and provide coffee to the Asheville community that is located close to the training facility. The idea came from the idea of making the most delicious coffee experiences accessible through PWYW (pay what you want) donation structure , where the proceeds go to (Asheville nonprofit that is dedicated to healing racial wounds and organizing culturally) BeLoved.”

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For many years, Counter Culture Coffee would host “Tasting at Ten” events that would explore different coffees, brew techniques ideas, stories, and concepts for staff and customers every Friday on the morning of a Friday. The pandemic altered all of that. But from the memory and the times, Shift Drink was born.

Shift Drink started as a simple pop-up that had an uninspiring coffee menu and featured drinks that were signature, Jenna continues, and the model has been so successful in bringing people together that “Trevor graciously entrusted us to create the Shift Drink idea and bring it to the national level and expand our reach but still adhering to the purpose of the initiative: great coffee is available to everyone.”

Jenna describes the atmosphere of Shift Drink events as being “like the atmosphere of a coffee shop. Visitors are invited to come to the cafe to meet up with friends. There’s always a chance to learn more about deep dives into the subject and conversations at our training centres. While we all serve similar drinks throughout the nation however, each region is distinct and therefore it could feel a different at the Shift Drink or a Shift Drink in NYC or Dallas or Miami or L.A.”

It’s the Boston Cream, the signature drink invented by Joe Capatosto for June’s Haley House fundraising Shift Drink event.

Shift Drink expands across the nation

Under Jenna’s direction, Shift Drink continues in the same altruistic and grassroots style of making things easy and increasing awareness and hopefully money for local nonprofits within the CCC’s regional areas. “Each month, regional teams pick one nonprofit in their area that they will highlight at Shift Drink,” Jenna says. “This gives us the chance for us to utilize our nationwide platform to raise money locally and gives regional teams the chance to meet with neighbors and causes they are passionate about.”

The events are held on the Friday that is the end each month.

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Counter Culture’s Shift Drink events are open to all and are completely free. Each event will feature an unique signature drink that was developed by one of CCC’s staffmembers, and every one is a fundraising event for a charity in one of the CCC’s local communities.

Shift Drink Event in Emeryville, Calif., July 29

The July Shift Drink events at CCC’s Training Centers will be on Friday the 29th of July. These will be special, because they will be the first time CCC’s Bay Area Training Center, which is located in Emeryville, Calif.–will participate. The events will take place between 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at each of the training centers.

The July Shift Drink events will be fundraisers for Planting Justice, a nonprofit that aims to empower people affected by mass imprisonment and other social injustices with the tools and resources to promote economic justice, food sovereignty and healing for communities Jenna says. Jenna. (If you are unable take part in any of the Shift Drink events, you can donate here.)

If you are unable to make it to any of the July Shift Drink events You can still contribute to Planting Justice via this QR code.

Additionally, every Shift Drink event will feature an original drink recipe developed by a member of CCC’s staff. Friday’s event will offer The Good View, created by CCC’s Western Coffee Manager Katie Carguilo as well as Western Roasting Manager Corey Reilly.

“Our drinking inspiration is the Irish Coffee from The Buena Vista The bar that is said to serve the very first Irish Coffee outside of Ireland,” says Katie. “The bar is located in the renowned San Francisco setting (cable cars! Ghirardelli Square! Piers!) and has a reputation for serving the best versions of the traditional coffee drink. The basic ingredients of The Buena Vista’s Irish Coffee are sugar, coffee, whiskey, and a luxuriously whipped-but-drinkable cream.”

The interesting aspect, Katie explains, is that the drink makes use of coffee chaff as a component. “To make a non-alcoholic alternative for whiskey, we pondered that chaff could be a base flavor. Chaff is the coffee bean’s husk that gets removed when roasting. It’s thin and static, which means it’s messy to work with however this doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable: Chaff makes an excellent addition to compost. It’s kept from a separate barrel, which roasters empty several times a day, and then bagging it into GrainPro bags for gardeners in the area to scoop it up and recycle,” Katie explains. “When it is brewed into a beverage the chaff will have an almost buttery-like, grainy taste. To enhance our ‘whiskey’ and increase the complexity we added a good cocoa powder as well as vanilla extract.”

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Sponsor Oatly contributes $500 and the amount of product needed to every event. “Drinks are PWYW. We encourage people to make a donation via QR codes that connect to GoLively fundraisers that we organize every month,” Jenna says. “No one will be denied a donation for not giving.”

Due to a schedule conflict the center for training at Boston will not participate in the July Shift Drink celebration, however other centers will.

The Shift drink is open for everyone and is free, however it is recommended to RSVP by submitting the EventBrite invitations for each training center, which can be found from this collection.

This article was first published at Barista Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to baristas and coffee professionals.

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