Bullseye brew: specialty coffee at Target


Every year, at the Guatemalan Cup of Excellence, coffee experts rate the top-quality beans via a "cupping" process, rank them in order of superiority, and put them on the auction block. They're mostly purchased by persnickity distributors who supply the country's top independent coffee shops...but not this year.

Target bought the #2 and #3 highest-rated lots, single-origin coffees from the La Bendicion and San Guayaba estates to market them under the Archer Farms label and make them "affordable and accessible for all." Both coffees retail at $14.99 and will be available for a limited time only at Target stores. I didn't run the math, but I'd guess that's a pretty good price for such an esteemed bean. Plus, it's already packaged in an easily giftable tin.

I was curious how Target's move into specialty coffee would play with independents--would the big box be seen as a bully? Chatter on coffee-geek message boards seemed supportive of the Minneapolis retailers foray into the high-end coffee biz. Target recently sponsored the Specialty Coffee Association's conference in Minneapolis which gives them some coffee cred, and, according to board posters, they have a "solid crew" of pedigreed coffee nuts in the division. Here's what one poster had to say:

I'm always excited when a mainstream, big name company (Target in this case) gets into the upper tiers of the specialty coffee world, because it means just one more victory over commodity coffee.