Oklahoma City's Disloyalty Card by Steve Willingham

Each Disloyalty Card is printed with the phrase "Fraternitas Ante Omnia," brotherhood before all things. That's the whole idea.

What is a Disloyalty Card?

The original disloyalty card. Photo courtesy of  Upright Coffee

The original disloyalty card. Photo courtesy of Upright Coffee

In retail, it's common for businesses to offer a loyalty card. It's a really cool idea. If you're a regular, you grab a punch on your Loyalty Card. When you have the requisite number of punches, you get a reward. In coffee, it's usually a punch for every drink and a free drink when you finish off your card.

Back in 2009, Gwilym Davies, a world renown barista out of London, put together the first Disloyalty Card offering a free drink from his coffee shop to anyone who fills it out. James Hoffmann put it simply: "If you go and drink coffee at 8 interesting, quality focused cafes around East London then he will say thank you by making you a coffee for free."

Since then, cities all around the world (Cleveland, Edinburgh, Washington D.C., and Atlanta just to name a few) have done these as a way to band together and promote great quality coffee. When it comes down to it, small shops like Clarity will never have the marketing power of large chains, but together, we're greater than the sum of our parts. We can introduce many more people to the kinds of coffees we love.

OKC's Disloyalty Card

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Nine years later, here we are. Oklahoma City is introducing its first (perhaps the first of many) Disloyalty Card.

The idea is as simple as it was back in 2009. If you go and drink coffee at five outstanding shops here in OKC, you can trade your Disloyalty Card in for a free drink at any of the five shops. You can pick these up at any of the participating coffee shops and do them in whatever order you want. 

Everyone at Clarity loves all five of these shops. The great thing about these five is that each of us has a dedication to the craft of specialty coffee, but we all have a bit of a different take. One shop might serve you a small yield espresso that's bright and intense while the next will serve you a fruit bomb and the next will strive for balance and sweetness. All of them can be delicious and unique.

Which Coffee Shops?

Clarity 431 W Main St

Elemental 815 N Hudson Ave

Okay Yeah 705 W Sheridan Ave

Leaf + Bean 321 N Oklahoma Ave

Coffee Slingers 1015 N Broadway Ave

Shout out to Paul over at Leaf and Bean for doing pretty much all the legwork on this. We're so excited that this is happening. Thanks, man.

Class Recap: Evolution of Specialty Coffee by Caleb Savage

What is Specialty Coffee and what makes it so special? Today we dove deep into the history of coffee production and consumption to learn more about the drink we love! We sampled coffees of various styles as we walked through the history of coffee consumption in the United States, using Mark Pendergrast’s “Uncommon Grounds” as our guide. Here's a quick recap:

While we don’t know precisely when coffee first began being cultivated intentionally, we do know that by the first printed mention of coffee in the 10th Century, coffee had been grown in Ethiopia and Yemen for hundreds of years. By way of colonialism, religious missionaries, and trade, the coffee plant made its way first to India, then to the Caribbean and Latin America, on to South America and, back to Africa throughout the 1700s and 1800s.

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Meanwhile in the US, coffee grew in popularity in spite of the temperance movement and various movements throughout the health and religious communities to ban caffeine. As the Industrial Revolution took off, so did the mass production of consumption of coffee. Prior to the 1880s, most coffee drinkers roasted and ground their coffee at home for each cup. Technology and manufacturing meant that small, regional roasters who existed in more urban communities could expand their operations and compete at a national level.

Prior to the 1880s, most coffee drinkers roasted and ground their coffee at home for each cup.

Economic instability and a heavy demand for coffee at the lowest price helped degrade the quality of coffee, with some roasters using inferior coffees that lacked the flavor and body of Arabica coffee for a higher yield at a lower cost.  Enter Specialty Coffee.

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Tired of coffee that lacked flavor or quality, new, independent roasters popped up offering coffees based on origin with a focus on preparation and quality. This emphasis provides more opportunities for farmers and producers to gain exposure and improve the quality of their offerings. Further, this new market makes coffee similar to other growing craft industries like beer or wine.

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William Morgan Cain by Paul Zimmerman

Though specialty coffee in Oklahoma City has emerged only within the last decade, OKC has a long tradition of progressive coffee culture dating back to the 1920s. 

You've probably seen Cain's coffee on the shelf at the grocery store. You may have turned your nose up at it's two tone label or pre-ground boasting but beyond the "Flavr Seal" is a fascinating story of OKC entrepreneurship and trailblazing for the modern coffee industry at large. 

William Morgan Cain was an Oklahoma civic leader and a coffee pioneer. After spending a portion of his twenties sailing around the world's trading ports with the US NAVY, he founded Cain's Coffee Company in 1919, after the end of World War I. Seeing the coffee and tea ports in Brazil, it seems, inspired the entrepreneurial spirit in Cain. In a time when OKC was largely driven by travel, agriculture, and energy, Cain sourced green beans from South America and roasted them on site in Oklahoma City. He grew his company, providing coffee for grocery stores and restaurants across Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri. 

Known for his dedication to local charities, especially those focusing on healthcare for Oklahoma City residents, William Morgan Cain spent the majority of his life in the public eye. A campaign for mayor, several civic awards for service, and chairman positions for both city government and city hospitals took up his time when he wasn't focusing on building the largest coffee supply company in the midwest, even spurring the early success of fellow OKC coffee giant, Neighbors Coffee Company. (Earl Neighbors was his second in command for nearly 30 years.) 

Cain's Coffee was bought by Nestle in 1961, who sold to Sara Lee as part of their Superior Coffee line in the 1990's. Sara Lee closed the Oklahoma City plant in 2003, laying off nearly 100 employees, and finally sold Cain's to Farmers Coffee Co. as part of a bundle of coffee producing companies for $45 million in 2008. 

William Morgan Cain died in 1983, after a lifetime of local industry and civic leadership.