What is an Orthodox father of eight from Cleveland, who lives in Jerusalem and works for Hewlett-Packard, doing importing coffee grown in Brazil and roasted in Vienna to coffee lovers throughout the United States?
The answer is much simpler than the question: He’s cultivating a passion.
Ted Marcus fell in love with the coffee he used to drink while on business trips to Vienna, and didn’t want the experience to end when he left the café and got on the airplane.
“I was dreaming of these coffee shops,” he said. Back home, he contacted people he knew in Vienna and asked them to find him the best place to buy coffee. He was introduced to Oliver Goetz of Alt Wien Kaffee.
“When I finally got a chance to meet Oliver, my third time back there, I was hooked,” Marcus said, “and I thought, this is so amazing that I wondered if there would be a market for it in the States.
Thus, European Coffee Society was born, a kind of coffee-of-the-month club with high-end offerings.
“Really good wine pronounces itself. And when it came to coffee, when I drank other coffee it tasted kind of flat; no nuances,” he said.
Marcus recognizes that a lot of people today make coffee from plastic pods. “But I think there are still a lot of people who look for an authentic, real experience. The flavor is important to them; not the ease of preparation.”
There are three ways to subscribe (or purchase a subscription for a coffee-loving friend or family member): With the most basic, you receive a single package of coffee every month, 250 grams, which is a little more than half a pound and is enough to make one cup of coffee a day.
To make two coffees a day, you need the premiere subscription, which will rotate through the whole collection of coffees. Third is the premium, which includes rare and special coffees.
The European Café Society has become something of a family business. “My kids are all trained,” Marcus said, referring to his eight children, the youngest of whom is 10 and the oldest, 26. “My eldest has no interest at all. Never drinks any coffee. It’s the two of my middle kids that I’m cultivating.
Marcus is offering the fourth month free to anyone who purchases a coffee subscription through the Forward.
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Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at Schoenfein@forward.com or on Twitter, @LifeDeathDinner.