The blue rose is a horticultural unicorn.
There are yellow roses, white roses, and red roses all found freely growing in nature, but the blue rose remains elusive – sort of like the perfect cup of coffee. And, while scientists continue to try and genetically engineer one, local Jon Defibaugh has had better luck in the realm of coffee.
Blue Rose Coffee opened in the Union Trust National Bank Building on Market Street in March, but the process to find the perfect cup of coffee started with the co-founders over a year ago. Defibaugh, a Parkersburg native, has been an avid coffee drinker for years, but had trouble finding a good quality bean in the area. After searching and coming up short over and over, he and a few other people decided that if they were having that problem in the area then others were too. Together, they decided that the only way to fix the problem was to do the work. About a year and a half ago, they did just that.
“We don’t roast our beans here because we knew good beans existed elsewhere – so we have an award winning roaster out of Colorado. What we wanted to do was just find a very high quality bean and bring it to the area,” Defibaugh said.
For Defibaugh and his co-founders, good coffee starts with the growing process which means finding sustainable products and ethical farming practices. They were in search of a better way to serve the best cup of coffee. To do this, they began partnering with a roaster who sources directly from farmers. From there, they looked at the farming practices and their ethical responsibilities to farming. Ultimately, it raised their prices, but the end product justifies the price tag.
We only work with companies that treat their farmers well and participate in responsible farming because it’s a big piece.
“We only work with companies that treat their farmers well and participate in responsible farming because it’s a big piece. The coffee industry is massive and there’s a huge amount of deforestation in destroying the soil. So it’s really important to manage that process if we’re going to be part of it. However, we still want everyone to just be able to walk in and say, ‘I want a cup of coffee’ and know it will be responsibly sourced, brought to the area in a smart way, and be extremely high quality – so that you’ll feel better about it no matter how you think about it. So we do all the backend work with sustainability to make the front end consumer process as easy as possible,” Defibaugh said.
For Maddie Ruppenthal, Parkersburg native and barista at Blue Rose Coffee, the process is a passion that delivers a top quality product into consumers’ hands.
“Freshness is everything and so is clean water. You can taste the difference in our bean as opposed to other beans that don’t use a sustainable practice. The coffee industry is not stable so farmers are scared to get into it , but if they’re paid livable wages they can actually tend to their coffee plants. Coffee is a volatile industry, but sustainable coffee is the reason the industry even still exists,” Ruppenthal said. “Large corporations create hybrid coffee plants sprayed with pesticides which are grown in full light, but good beans have to be grown in partial shade. They should have fruit trees all the way around to create the shade and attract birds to create proper intercropping. Sustainable farming is better for the environment and creates a better cup of coffee.”
Blue Rose Coffee grinds their beans on site and uses the highest quality arabica to entice even the most hesitant of coffee drinkers.
“To be honest, I have a theory about all foods, like maybe you don’t like a certain food or drink, but maybe you’ve just never had a really good version of it. There’s definitely an element of that where coffee intersects,” Jon said. “There’s a misnomer about coffee flavor – that you can add coffee flavor to other things. That’s essentially like saying, ‘we’re going to have fruit flavor.’ Well, what fruit? Coffee is like that too. With our coffee, you can place three side by side and will be able to taste the different flavors in all of them. One of the biggest compliments I think we’ve gotten is that several people have said that our coffee is the first product they’ve been able to have without having to add a bunch of cream or sugar. That’s just been such a really nice thing because, really, you shouldn’t have to put a bunch of stuff in your coffee to enjoy it.”
We’re excited to be a part of that – this new up and coming version of downtown and we have this opportunity that we just have to grab a hold of.
Jon believes that the growing Mid-Ohio Valley is ready for a coffee shop that caters to those looking for a “good” coffee in every sense of the word. As a native, he wanted to be part of the driving force that revitalizes the downtown area.
“The Mid-Ohio Valley is changing, it’s growing. West Virginia tends to be behind the times, but we’re kind of catching up now. We’re excited to be a part of that – this new up and coming version of downtown and we have this opportunity that we just have to grab a hold of,” he said.
Ruppenthal affirms Defibaugh’s opinions on downtown adding that, “we’re finally starting to get people to come back into the downtown area, like he said – we’ve got the brewery right there, we’ve got the mango. This particular location is kind of right in the center. The small businesses that are here – they’re going to inspire more – because if you see one person is doing a good job, you might want to try it yourself.”
Downtown has remained supportive of the new business with Ruppenthal noting that she makes coffee for regulars frequently throughout the week who work in the downtown businesses.
It’s all measured out and we have such specific guidelines because when we brew it, we want consistency.
“They’re coming back time and time again because it’s a great cup of coffee, and the more people who notice we’re here, the more people we’re getting. We actually had a guy come in today and he said, ‘I was gonna get Starbucks, but the line was too long.’ So he came here, got an Americano, waited for it to cool, and took a drink. Immediately, he was like, ‘I’m really glad I came here, this was a good choice,’” she said. “We have very specific recipes that John and I developed. It’s all measured out and we have such specific guidelines because when we brew it, we want consistency. That’s the problem with a lot of other coffee chains – you’re not getting a consistent drink.”
Blue Rose is working to cater to the downtown crowd of working professionals and how they enjoy consuming products. They have introduced a monthly subscription box filled with products for coffee lovers. Each month also includes a limited edition bean that’s only available during that month. For coffee drinkers who don’t grind their own beans, Blue Rose will be grinding, packaging fresh, and selling k-cups with their signature blends. According to Defibaugh, most k-cups take three to six months from packaging to drinking, but Blue Rose’s will be as fresh as physically possible leading back to that perfect cup.
“At the end of the day, what we’re really trying to do – the coffee shop space is wonderful, people come through for a great cup of coffee and it’s really quick – that whole part of it that’s always great; but what we’re really trying to do is just provide beans that we’re really proud of. We’re trying to build all that into it, so no matter what, every cup of coffee is going to be phenomenal,” Defibaugh said.