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This New Coffee Company Is Backed by San Diego Athletes

Rob Machado, Alphonzo Rawls, and other local athletes team up with a North County crew for Marea Coffee


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From left: Marea ambassadors and co-owners Rob Machado, Danny Way, and Alphonzo Rawls

Any surfer will tell you there’s no better fuel than a burrito. And after a session, there’s no better comfort than a warm cup of coffee.

Leucadia native Grayson Adams wanted to tap into that feeling with his own coffee brand, targeting people who live a positive, active lifestyle. So he joined forces with Joe Bettinger (a friend from his previous life in mortgage finance), Loren Laguens (a surf buddy), and Greg Moser and ReyJay Solares, who brought their e-commerce know-how. Together they launched Marea Coffee, after the Spanish word for “tide.”

But that was late 2016. It wasn’t until this February—with a splashy party at Solana Beach’s Belly Up—that the coffee company officially stepped out.

One of Marea’s sources, a family-owned farm in Guatemala

“We wanted to make sure our website was state-of-the-art and its e-commerce rivaled the best,” Adams says. “We also wanted to build out a team of athletes to not only be ambassadors of the brand, but also co-owners.” Those athlete-owners include surfer Rob Machado, skateboarder Alphonzo Rawls, surf photographer Todd Glaser, and snowboarder Kimmy Fasani, among others. At one point, many of the Marea team members lived in Encinitas and attended San Dieguito High School together.

“A few of the guys are longtime friends,” says Glaser, who collaborated with Marea for their first ambassador blend. “I grew up in San Diego, surfing and making photos, but also had the opportunity to explore locations around the world. I learned that coffee is universal like music—it’s a way of connecting people.”

Though there may be a café in their future, for now Marea is a direct-to-consumer, subscription based model, selling blends sourced from Central and South America, Africa, and Asia—everywhere from Mexico and Costa Rica to Burundi and Malawi. But there are plans to launch a subscription for single-origin beans, or those that come from a single country or even from one farm. Many coffee connoisseurs consider single origin the best way to appreciate exactly where that cup is from.

“We all love coffee,” Adams says. “If you’re getting up for a surf, hiking, doing yoga, or heading into the office, we wanted something that was high quality and small batch. That daily ritual is an integral part of our lives.”

 

A Good Cuppa

Marea contributes to the O2 For Life Rainforest Foundation. Here are three other local coffee companies giving back.

Trident Coffee Roasters

Native San Diegan brothers Brad and Eric Johnson recently launched this bean brand in Imperial Beach. They’ve hosted a fundraiser for Marine Corps veterans Will Owens and Dustin Schnatz, who are running from IB to Virginia Beach in an effort to draw attention to PTSD and PTSD-related suicide among veterans.

Wadstrom Coffee Co.

For every bag of beans you buy, this Rancho Peñasquitos–based company will provide a meal to someone in need in Mexico. 

Cafe Virtuoso

The Barrio Logan organic roaster hosts the San Diego Coffee Training Institute, a nonprofit that teaches barista skills. Classes run from $75 for latte art to $1,500 to learn coffee roasting, but are provided free of charge to youth aging out of foster care, homeless adults and teens, and people recently released from incarceration, to help them acquire skills for future job opportunities. 

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