Washington, DC

From a press release:

“Washington, DC-based founders Lisa Gerben and Melissa Gerben announce the launch of RAKO Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee collective focused on sustainably sourced single origin coffees, environmentally friendly roasting practices, and advanced brewing methods.  While RAKO’s summer plans to open two cafes in the District were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand launched a new online store featuring freshly roasted specialty coffee from Sumatra, Guatemala, Burundi and Ethiopia, available via free shipping in the DMV. The complimentary delivery service started April 6th and will continue indefinitely, with custom brew guides available for consumers to make the best possible coffee at home.

The sister duo has been pleased by the outpouring of support from the community toward local businesses and are grateful to customers who have kept demand strong. In turn, they will be donating 10% of every sale to Erik Bruner-Yang’s Power of 10 crowdfunding initiative, which provides employment to laid off restaurant workers and meals to first responders and community members affected by COVID-19. Additionally, a portion of each sale supports the coffee country of origin’s International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) Chapter.

“While this isn’t the launch we had envisioned, we are excited to bring our locally roasted, sustainably sourced coffee to the community,” said co-founders Lisa and Melissa Gerben. “We are happy to be able to ship coffee at this time, and to welcome Washingtonians to our cafes later this year.”

RAKO develops coffees that are approachable but can become increasingly complex with advanced brewing methods. Their unique roast profiles are meticulously designed to bring out the full potential of each coffee. Each coffee is accompanied by a brewing guide to assist at-home drinkers with varying levels of experience to perfectly brew their cup.

  • Luleesa Limu – Ethiopia ($16). Tasting Notes: Graham Cracker, Butterscotch, Pomegranate
  • Harimau Tiger – Sumatra ($18). Tasting Notes: Cocoa, Molasses, Grapefruit, Tobacco
  • Sidamo Kercha – Ethiopia ($16). Tasting Notes: Butter Croissant, Ginger Snap, Strawberry
  • Buzira Microlot 4 – Burundi ($18). Tasting Notes: Toffee, Clementine, Cinnamon, Clove
  • HueHue Waykan – Guatemala ($16). Tasting Notes: Brown Sugar, Milk Chocolate, Lemon Zest
  • Espresso Blend ($16). Tasting Notes: Candied Ginger, Cocoa, Blackberry Tart
  • Yirgacheffe Gedeb – Ethiopia ($18). Tasting Notes: Peach, Lemon Zest, Caramelized Sugar

Melissa Gerben is the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) certified head roaster for RAKO Coffee Roasters. She never settles for anything less than perfection, and as a result is constantly learning, experimenting, and continuing to develop her craft. RAKO Coffee Roasters is in a constant pursuit to create the best coffee possible – this ethos is embedded into RAKO down to the very name, which translates to ‘challenge’. The roaster is named after RAKO mountain, a soaring, solitary mountain that co-owner Lisa Gerben and her team encountered after driving hours through rough terrain on one of their coffee sourcing trips in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. This experience inspired the team to take on the challenge to create elevated, exceptional coffees while giving back to the communities they’re a part of both locally and globally.

The majority of their coffees are single origin, directly imported from coffee farmers with whom they have personal friendships with thanks to Lisa’s extensive background in international trade. The RAKO team believes that the best way to help communities is through economic empowerment, and by importing coffee directly from the source, it allows the farmers and their communities to grow and thrive. They also work with high-quality importers who are equally committed to these guiding principles and work to improve the standard of living in coffee growing regions.

RAKO will continue to produce wholesale and direct to consumer coffee out of their state-of-the-art roasting facility in Northern Virginia. True to their ethos of making coffee as sustainably as possible, RAKO uses a Loring™ S35 Kestrel and S15 Falcon, some of the most environmentally friendly coffee roasting equipment on the market. Through a partnership with TerraCycle, consumers who order coffee online can simply drop their bags back into a pre-stamped envelope. The brand looks forward to welcoming coffee lovers in the coming months when they resume plans for a local pop-up series as well as the opening of two new cafe locations.”


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