Fourtillfour was founded in the desire to bring new life to old objects, restoring adventure into vintage machines and bringing people together through the ritual of coffee.
Fourtillfour’s ties with specialty coffee started almost a decade ago. Founder Nico Samaras was an avid coffee drinker. For him, coffee was never just a quick energy boost. It was a morning ritual, and a way to ensure a good start to a new day. He enjoyed coffee however he could get it – Starbucks, Peet’s, and whatever he could find on base during his time in the Marine Corps but he knew something was missing. Nico knew there was room for improvement with the burnt coffee he would drink. It wasn’t until he moved to San Francisco in 2011 that Nico discovered he could never go back to his old coffee ways. Little did he know he had just moved to one of the epicenters of coffee, and a new wave of specialists had been forming there for the past couple of years.
Throughout the city one could find a coffee shop with craft in mind, filled with people who cared about what they were serving. They would educate others, from the origin of the beans to the importance of weighing each shot, all to guide the customers on a rich, flavorful journey. The baristas working in these shops were visibly passionate about the product they were creating, and willingly pointed out notes that could be tasted with each coffee. Nico also noticed the beautiful European equipment responsible for this process, and the cafes built in old historic buildings reminded him of some of his old cars. These roasteries were reminiscent of the garages he spent many days in, as well as his grandfather's old tool and die shop. Nico was hooked.
Soon, Nico began to notice flavors and nuances, experimenting with his orders at these coffee shops and new cafes he’d discover throughout the Bay Area. He traveled around every weekend, from San Francisco to the East Bay, just to visit a new cafe. Fascinated with the intricacies of this whole new world and wanting to learn more, he started going to coffee classes with companies like Four Barrel, becoming a sponge to the roasters and barista’s knowledge. He participated in cuppings and learned different brew guides, falling in love with the small batch coffee approach.
This new wave of coffee that Nico discovered while in San Francisco is considered Third Wave Coffee. The three waves of coffee originated from the idea that each “wave” of coffee builds on the last. The First Wave is low-grade, dark roasted coffees like Folgers or Maxwell House. Second Wave came with the insurgence of Starbucks, offering different origins of coffee and types of espresso-based drinks. Third Wave came after this, with modern approaches to coffee making, and focused strongly on the origin of beans, seasonality, traceability, preparation, and roasting process. Third Wave Coffee and Specialty Coffee beans rate higher than an 85 on a 100 point scale.
Nico would go on to spend the next three years on a deep-dive journey with coffee. With every trip back home to Arizona, he’d wonder why this type of coffee and experience didn’t exist in the desert or the automotive world. His weekends still consisted of going to car events, where coffee was always an afterthought – always present but never a fixture of the experience. Before he knew it, his wheels were spinning as his car collection expanded and the Fourtillfour brand continued to grow online. The desert has always been an integral part of Fourtillfour’s identity, so everything came together in a perfect storm when Nico decided to pack up and move to Arizona with his girlfriend Mia to start a new facet of the brand, the Fourtillfour Café.
In 2015 the Fourtillfour Café was built. It was a face of the Fourtillfour brand and a touchpoint, a physical representation of this union between cars and coffee. The brick & mortar shop became a location where Fourtillfour could host events and connect with our audience, as well as a place to serve the best coffee in the state.
Within the first year of opening our doors, Fourtillfour Café began to receive various accolades including an award by the Phoenix New Times for “Best New Coffee House,” as well as recognition in publications like Sprudge, Roast Magazine, and Thrillist -- all for our approach to coffee and cafe space. The Fourtillfour Café was small but it allowed our team to stay true to the craft.
Dialing in an old vintage Probat coffee roaster next to the Fourtillfour Cafe was the next phase in coffee. Our team spent nearly two years experimenting with various coffees until the blends were just right, and Four Coffee was soon out for production.
Four Coffee is equal parts automotive inspiration and coffee experience. The goal was to create a product line that could be relied on for consistency and quality, and was created with a similar approach to many of the coffee roasters Nico learned from in San Francisco almost a decade earlier. Four Coffee cultivated relationships with coffee farmers and exporters keeping to the mission of fair trade and ethical, quality sourcing.
With both Fourtillfour and Four Coffee, we have used our deep ties with automotive culture and specialty coffee to help change the scene. Since our inception, we have collaborated with various companies we respect in the automotive industry. Companies like Luftgekühlt, Bring-a-Trailer, Mobil 1, and Hot Wheels to make coffee an experience, not an afterthought. Specialty coffee is just one facet to the Fourtillfour brand but it is one of the most important components. It is the seed that everything can grow from.