Wednesday, July 24, 2024

A Revolution is Brewing in the Historic Triangle

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — The Gucanac family has worked for years to bring back the hustle and bustle of Main Street Yorktown.

As the owners of both Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters and Little York Confectionery, these Yorktown shops are housed in National Park Service historic buildings. They are businesses that provide a gathering space to sit with friends over coffee and simply reminisce, or perhaps, plan a rebellion.

Just as during the colonial period.

Coffeehouses in Virginia became space for “men to discuss and read the news, write or receive letters, play cards and dice, and drink coffee, tea, wines, punch, and other beverages” according to the Coffee House Historical Report.

The goods, such as coffee and tea, came into the deep water ports at Yorktown and flowed into the neighboring areas of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and beyond.

Now, a partnership between Gucanac’s Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is working to preserve those early American bonds between the historic towns of Williamsburg and Yorktown.

“It is a shared mission; Colonial Williamsburg is about keeping history alive and keeping the artisan trades alive,” said Noreen O’Rourke, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Creative Director. “With Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters, it’s the same mission. It may be on a smaller scale but, they took a little slice of that historic downtown Yorktown and restored it, made it the center of town and it’s now full of life. But, on top of that, their commitment to craftsmanship and artesian ways of roasting their coffee is meticulous. It is the perfect collaboration.”

Craft & Forge, which is licensed by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to make Williamsburg “brands” inspired by Colonial Williamsburg, and Mobjack Coffee Roasters worked in collaboration to create three historically inspired coffees.

“Everything was done from the ground up to make this historically correct and appropriate,” said Celeste Gucanac whose husband, Jo, is in charge of roasting the coffee blends.

Roasting fresh coffee beans. (Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters)

The detail of the coffee blends, packaging and names of the coffee came from archival research to help share the stories and educate the consumers about how coffee came to America and was consumed by the colonists.

“The artwork comes from the archives at Colonial Williamsburg. These are real renderings from the 18th century and each coffee comes with its own little history lesson,” stated O’Rourke.

In discussing the authenticity, Gucanac said, “We looked back at letters and order forms from George Washington to see what kinds of beans he was ordering and requesting for his troops. And, using that information, those were the beans we imported and used to create the Craft & Forge blends. It’s the blends that would have been available in colonial America. Certainly, it is not an exact to what they had because nobody has a crystal ball, but this is close to what we believe they had at that time.”

Gucanac shared the research helped validate the notion that coffee was the drink of patriots, “it wasn’t just ‘oh, I’m having this as my morning drink,’ but this was also taking a stand and making a statement about what you believe in. I think that is very powerful because at that time people didn’t have the liberty to be super vocal about being a patriot and this was a way to show your support.”

Rebellion, a dark roast coffee, shares that story through its package stating, “the patriots chose coffee over tea in response to the Crown’s increasing taxation on the American colonies. Coffee houses became a center to share news and plan the rebellion.”

“It is always nice to have a relatively straightforward way to feel like you are making a difference. The nice thing about this [collaborative] project, this coffee and these two businesses, is that you can purchase this product with confidence knowing it is going to be excellent, it is local and it’s doing all the things that people in our area are passionate about; preserving, educating, and giving back to the Foundation so they can continue their good work,” added Gucanac.

Craft & Forge coffee supports the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as proceeds from sales contribute to keeping history alive as well as supporting local, family-owned Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters.

And, as you sip from that cup, you can say you are a patriot.

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