With two others in Jersey City, this marks the company’s third location in the Garden State, and its 33rd overall since first opening in Manhattan back in 2006. And, to answer any lingering questions, yes, Gregory is a real person and he does in fact look like the company logo (glasses and a full head of hair).
The shop itself is undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically pleasing cafe’s in the Hoboken area. Large windows spanning two sides of the building (along 1st and River), greenery (both real and artificial) throughout, and a nice contrast in colors, with ample indoor seating. In addition, the prime location is only steps away from Pier A Park on the waterfront. Stay and sip or take it to go.
Rather than dive into the the history of Gregory’s (I’ll save the in-person interview for a later date) let’s explore what Gregory’s coffee is and learn the difference between it and, let’s say, Starbucks. Because in order to appreciate a good cup o’Joe, or in this case, cup o’Gregory, it’s helpful to know what the coffee is as much as we enjoy how the coffee tastes.
Gregory’s coffee is third wave coffee. But to understand what that means, let’s take a look at the history of each of the four waves.
1800s— Wave one is a basic cup of coffee. It answers the question: “why” coffee? And the answer is that coffee is a basic commodity. Think of the first wave of coffee in terms of big brands like Folgers and Maxwell House, the ones we take home and make part of our morning routine. Fun fact: A Maxwell House Coffee Plant once occupied the space between 10th – 12th and Hudson Streets in Hoboken and, at the time (1939) it was the largest coffee plant in the world. It closed in 1992.
1970s— Many years later, wave two began when Starbuck’s arrived to reshape “what” coffee is. Coffee is social and it’s luxurious. Beyond the basic bean, Starbucks introduced artificial flavoring to make it fancy, like a Frappuccino. Thus, coffee became about mainstreaming the experience for the every day consumer, beyond the confines of the home. Further, it allowed coffee drinkers to customize their cup.
1999— The term third wave coffee was coined in 1999 when the focus shifted away from the “what” coffee was and into the “who” and “where” coffee came from. There became a greater focus on the quality of the coffee itself, who was growing it, and enhancing the natural notes of the bean. Vanilla flavor wasn’t an add in, it was part of the bean’s origins. The conversation transitioned from what was in the cup to where it hit on a flavor profile. This is where Gregory’s Coffee lands.
Now— Today, we’re in the fourth wave with a focus on the “how” coffee is made. As science makes its way into the brewing process, there’s a lens on sustainability and global impact.
Think of a coffee wave the same way you’d view a clothing brand– from basic to high fashion. It’s about individual taste. So, the next time you’re ready to ride the third wave may I suggest a cup o’Gregory?