A Warm Cup of Kindness

Driven Coffee gives a portion of online sales to charity, creates fundraising kits.
From left: Megan Albavado, Dan Oksnevad, Matt Vassau, Erin Halloran, Courtney Aronson and Nick Schmitz

Over the last several years, breweries and distilleries have been making their beverage marks on the area. There’s another player in the mix—this time the beans are doing the talking.

Matt Vassau is the CEO and founder of Driven Coffee. He and his partners Dan Oksnevad, marketing director, and Nick Schmitz, client relations manager, roast coffee in Chaska, and they are happy to have customers—or potential customers—stop by to watch their Probat Roaster in action. Driven Coffee is a small-batch boutique company Oksnevad says shares some sensibilities with craft beer brewers.

The partners at Driven think that, just as local breweries have claimed a big share of the beer market in recent years, local roasters will become a big force in the coffee market. “We believe that the micro markets that are driving beer sales right now are going to be the future of the coffee market, too.” Oksnevad says.

Small-batch roasting, unique blends and rigorous quality control aren’t the only things setting Driven Coffee apart. In addition to having a passion for introducing people to specialty coffee made at home, it focuses on giving back. Driven donates five percent of all online sales to three charities: Second Harvest, the United Way and Feed My Starving Children. Driven employees also donate their time to those organizations.

Vassau began his coffee career working for a company that sold and serviced espresso machines for restaurants. He got to know a few people in the Minneapolis coffee shop business and became an investor in a few of them. Soon, he decided he wanted to “blaze a different trail,” he says. He began looking around the Southwest Metro area near his home in Chaska, outside the usual downtown neighborhoods, for a place to launch his own coffee business.

 “We love Chaska,” Vassau says. “We see the opportunity to create fans of our business in our neighborhood.” The partners say Driven hopes to open a coffee shop in the Southwest Metro sometime next year.

In addition to online sales direct to consumers in the home, Driven has a growing wholesale business selling to restaurants, cafes and venues throughout the Twin Cities and is expanding national sales. “Some of your readers may have noticed our coffee brand popping up throughout town,” Oksnevad says. “Driven Coffee is now proudly served at Orchestra Hall, for example.”

Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

There are a lot of home coffee brewing gadgets on the market, but the owners of Driven Coffee think one method of coffee making stands out: the pour over method, using a Chemex. “You pull the most out of the coffee with this method,” Oksnevad says.

1.Place the paper filter in the Chemex, and pour hot water over it to set the filter in place, discard that water.
2.For brewing, use a 15:1 ratio of water to coffee—30 grams of coffee and 450 ml of water per cup. (A small kitchen scale to measure coffee is recommended.)
3.Pour water into the Chemex in three pours with a total brew time of 4 minutes.
4.After the first pour, wait about 30 seconds. This step is called the bloom, which releases “the most desirable coffee elements from the grounds” according the Chemex website.
5.Continue with the remaining two pours, pausing between each.