Founder Gay Coffee
The Gay Coffee story begins in 2004, in Northampton, Massachusetts – a small, progressive college town. After working in coffee shops throughout her undergraduate career at Smith College, coffee aficionado Melissa Krueger opened up a tiny cafe in a former ATM kiosk, on a quiet downtown street adjacent to campus. She called it the Elbow Room.
One of the first 100% fair trade coffee cafes in Northampton, the Elbow Room filled up daily with thirsty students, professors, staff, and folks visiting from the all over the world. The cafe soon became a local landmark, the ideal place to meet a friend, take a one minute vacation over an espresso, and chat about the events of the day. The Elbow Room Cafe patrons grew into a family, and word spread about the tiny cafe with the best coffee in town.
Melissa ran the Cafe each day, often from morning ‘til closing, and after two years cranking out locally roasted java, became interested in taking the quality of her coffee one step further. She purchased a small commercial drum coffee roaster and set about learning the craft of coffee roasting herself. Each night after the Cafe closed, she disappeared into the small roastery behind her house and, like a mad scientist, roasted late into the night perfecting each bean.
The Elbow Room’s reputation grew, and patrons lined up down the street and around the corner as word spread about Melissa’s fresh and vibrant hand-roasted coffees. As her business grew, Melissa maintained her commitment to 100% fair trade coffee purchasing. With her partner Mary, she traveled to rural Nicaragua to meet coffee growers and hear their stories. And four years later, unable to keep up with demand for her coffee, Melissa sold the little Cafe to purchase bigger equipment and pursue a new career as a full time coffee roaster.
A few months after launching her new coffee roasting company in early 2011, Melissa and Mary were musing one morning – over coffee, of course! – about the recent legalization of gay marriage in New York. Watching the images of couples marrying on television, Melissa and Mary toasted the screen and smiled at one another with their cups raised. With a clink, the idea for Gay Coffee was born. At the intersection of a historic moment in gay civil rights, and over the morning ritual of sharing a cup of exquisite coffee, Gay Coffee was conceived as the perfect integration of these two powerful themes. Gay Coffee celebrates ourselves, our history, and our unique contribution to the world.
Melissa’s passion for roasting the very best coffee is reflected in every cup of Gay Coffee. All of our coffees are fairly traded and organically sourced, respecting our coffee growing partners, and our planet’s health with 1% of all profits donated to the LGBT Task Force. Melissa continues to roast each batch by hand in her Williamsburg, Massachusetts studio and cups every roast of Gay Coffee before it is packaged. She, Mary, and the crew at Gay Coffee hope you enjoy these unique, vibrant coffees as much as we enjoy bringing them to you, one cup at a time.