Coffee Talk: How To Incorporate An Impressive Coffee Bar Into Your Wedding Reception
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Maciej Wolfart, the founder of Chicago’s Black Fodder Coffee, has it on good authority that craft coffee service is the next big wedding trend.
By Elise Hofer Shaw
Coffee… For those of us that make it a part of our daily ritual, or depend on it for an added boost, it’s a consistent comfort and craving. And because the art of coffee is fiercely competitive, people have become very particular about their beans and brews. So much so, in fact, that they are faithfully loyal to their preferred coffee houses and intensely precise about their favorite blends, foam height, sweetener selections and more. There’s no denying that America’s coffee culture is booming—pre-pandemic, anyway. (In total, there are approximately 35,616 coffee shops in the U.S. representing a market value of $45.4 billion.) And people have made it their business to be in the know, staying on top of the sippable trends that are coming out of the specialty coffee segment. But for Maciej Wolfart, the founder of Black Fodder Coffee—a purveyor of craft coffees for Chicagoland functions great and small, including weddings—coffee is more than a beloved beverage. It’s a catalyst for human relationships. “I passionately believe that coffee should be experienced, not merely consumed,” says Wolfart. “I’m not interested in just selling a product, but in making sure we enhance your approach while building an appreciation for every stop and every hand that has touched the beans before you enjoy it. I want to share the knowledge of coffee and its preparation, so people can fully appreciate the experience and, consequently, share it with others.” Wolfart’s personal connection with coffee was a slow drip. In fact, he didn’t get super into it until a few years ago after receiving a French press as a Christmas present. “It wasn’t my first cup of coffee by far, but it was the first cup of coffee that I really tasted,” says Wolfart. “I immediately fell down the rabbit hole. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the process and flavor profiles, from farming to fruition, and I started experimenting with different brewing methods. I eventually got an espresso machine and set to mastering that, too. Learning the technical art of coffee was key. But the most important thing I learned along the way is that coffee is a universal language that connects people.” This revelation proved to be the beginning of the Black Fodder business model. You see, before being bitten by the coffee bug, Wolfart was in the nonprofit sector, working as a Chicago mission director for an international organization called Navigators. His passion for community was already in place. (Wolfart is also a theological seminary graduate and a Polish immigrant with an inherent cultural respect for the ceremony that is connecting over a cup of coffee.) “Coffee allowed me to merge all of my passions into one pursuit—community, culture and human connectivity,” says Wolfart. “I come from a nonprofit background, so it was important to me that Black Fodder be as much about positive social change as it is about amazing coffee.” Here’s how it works: Black Fodder is passionate about partnering with organizations fighting on the front lines to bring freedom and relief to people around the world who are oppressed by modern-day slavery, especially women and children. “We’re 100 percent about democratizing the craft coffee experience [read: bringing barista-level knowledge to the people] and 100 percent a people-focused, justice and freedom-loving venture,” says Wolfart. “Black Fodder is a social entrepreneurship platform with a special focus on bringing awareness and fighting the human slavery and sex trafficking pandemic.” In addition to providing myriad philanthropic resources on the Black Fodder website, from suggested organizations to support to educational books that promote awareness, when you invest in Black Fodder for a brewing class or event, you are supporting efforts akin to other local and global organizations like End It, The Exodus Road and Not For Sale—orgs that are combatting human trafficking and captivity. With all of its social pillars in place, Wolfart officially launched Black Fodder Coffee in January of 2017—but not until he had raised the bar (quite literally) on service and presentation, too, including a gorgeous wooden service cart, fine china and utensils, organic sweeteners and dairy, double-filtered water, glass pour overs and teapots, and even waste bins with concealed trash bags. “My friends were getting married and they asked me to do the coffee service for their reception in the south-west suburbs,” says Wolfart. “Their wedding was an opportunity for me to figure out what would work, and how to perfect the mobile catering experience for craft coffee so that I could bring an unparalleled level of service to Chicago’s events scene.” Speaking of weddings, Wolfart isn’t shy when it comes to serving up some advice. “Don’t leave the coffee service to the food caterer,” he advises. “Imagine drinking your favorite coffee at your favorite coffee shop. Now imagine that at your wedding. That’s what we do.” He also recommends that couples take advantage of Black Fodder’s free tasting, just as you would for, say, selecting your wedding cake. “Our tasting is mobile,” says Wolfart. “We’ll bring a magnificent mini-tasting experience right to you—think delicious Columbian beans ground on the spot for a pair of pour overs, plus small-batch cold brew and nitro. It’s our tastings that really open people’s eyes. I’ve found that most people don’t even know that they’ve become accustomed to subpar coffee.” Couples who hire Black Fodder for their big day can customize their service to include a full espresso bar, a pour over bar experience, ultra-fresh small-batch filter coffee service, cold brew, nitro and kombucha on tap, or Black Fodder’s signature three loose-leaf tea selection—or go all out and opt for everything. “We will delight your guests with the absolutely best-tasting coffee, prepared using traditional manual brewing methods, dialed-in to perfection small-batch filter coffee, and our signature 12-hour smooth cold brew and creamy nitro. We can also work in a selection of the highest-quality teas and/or a craft hot cocoa bar upon request with gourmet toppings and homemade whipped cream. And we don’t charge per cup—everything is unlimited.” And remember, not everyone drinks alcohol. Some of your guests may have given it up for health reasons or don’t imbibe on account of their religious practices. Dry weddings are a thing, too, making a craft coffee and tea cart a delightful option. With weddings being pushed back to the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wolfart is already thinking ahead about seasonal pours. “For summer weddings, most couples want cold beverages—refreshing cold brew with a high caffeine content, nitro or cold brew tea, or kombucha. For fall, a range of hot beverages is routinely popular. For smaller weddings, I recommend our manual pour over methods—Chemex or siphon—for the presentation factor. For bigger weddings, our small-batch drip coffee always impresses. But our teas are as popular as coffee these days. All of the teas we offer are loose leaf—white tea or a white and green blend, or a black tea and an oolong, for example. And a lot of couples like to opt for a cold option regardless of season. Dancing makes people thirsty!”