Paper Plane Coffee Co. took the Montclair area by storm as soon as it opened nine years ago — and for good reason. With exceptional graphic design, the logo alone distinguishes it — a paper airplane flying through the sky and into your coffee mug. Paper Plane’s name originates from the family-owned, fifth-generation farm in Colombia, which grows eucalyptus trees for the national paper company and coffee beans. It is a farming plain used for paper, so the name, Paper Plane, plays on that. Not only do you find tradition, family values, and love in the beans, but you’ll find a high level of creativity and dedication to the perfect cup of coffee. Read on to learn more about Paper Plane Coffee Co. in Montclair.
Founded by Jonathan Echeverry in 2015, Paper Plane Coffee Co. home-roasts specialty coffee selected from fair green beans with eco-friendly practices. Before the Williamsburg-Brooklyn, NY location, the coffee legacy began approximately 150 years ago in Santuario, Colombia. Jonathan’s great-great-grandfather began what would become generations of coffee growers in the Risaralda region of Colombia.
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Jonathan’s grandfather built “Villa Elisa” by hand along with the mountainous rolling greens of the Echeverry Estate. As a child, Jonathan would spend summers with his grandfather on the family farm picking coffee beans before sunrise. During these visits, he began to learn about the fermenting, washing, and drying process of coffee. Coffee growing is in Jonathan’s ancestry, his memories, and most importantly, his heart.
But coffee is still coffee, right? Not at Paper Plane Coffee Co. Have you ever tried a coffee soda? How about hot chocolate in more than one flavor? Paper Plane is beyond the average coffee shop — there’s a bit of whimsy mixed with great ingredients and a lot of imagination. If Jonathan sounds like the Willy Wonka of coffee, well, he just might be.
Try the “Vincent Vega” coffee soda, it’s Mexican Coca-Cola mixed with muddled cherry, vanilla, and yes, espresso! If classic coffee is more your thing, try an exotic pour-over called “Sebastián Gómez,” which is aged in rum with tasting notes of dried plums and boozy cranberries. Who said coffee needed to be boring?
If you don’t know what to try, ask one of the knowledgeable baristas for a drink that will hit the spot. With temperatures rising quickly this summer, they’ll have you covered with iced lattes, cool coffee sodas, and even vintage classics like Yoohoo — they can add espresso and make you a “Truffle Shuffle”. Hot or cold, these beverages will keep you flying back to them.
The shop has a mini boutique of coffee-making equipment and many locally sourced products on sale, so take a walk around inside to browse treats or to pick up a tote, a mug, or a designed poster.
A flagship store in Montclair was just the beginning, however, as the owners have launched a new product line of draft drinks that are available nationwide. The can designs are sleek and modern, easy to throw in your purse on the way to the office, or to drink on the go with a busy to-do list.
Read on for a Q+A with Johnathan from 2021 about the new line of on-tap beverages, and what brought the team to the area.
The Montclair Girl: There are so many great towns in the tri-state area, why Montclair?
Jonathan Echeverry: Love. My wife is from the Montclair/Glen Ridge area, and we could not think of a better community to raise our family.
MG: Tell us about your unique creations on the menu.
JE: I combined my Le Cordon Bleu culinary training, Colombian roots, and bartending stewardship to conceptualize Paper Plane Coffee Roasting. The Science menu puts a fun spin on this as “coffee cocktails” or “mocktails.” You might notice the movie nostalgia with, say, the Mandalorian, the cultural nod with the Milo-Presso, or The Rusky; lime, spicy ginger beer, and espresso. People are used to coffee the way they know it, and we get that, but we really want to put a fun twist on something that can be so versatile.
MG: Tell us about your new product line of draft drinks.
JE: We’re really excited for the summer to introduce our “on-tap” beverages. We have our Dogma cold-brew and First Class La Paz on draft, which really delivers at just the right temps to produce optimum balance in tasting notes.
We also have our ‘new’ coffee sodas; Moka Cola, Rootbrew, & Malta. They are super delicious fun twists on coffee sodas. If you enjoy our cold brew and you like carbonated drinks, this will really hit all the distinct forward notes of flavors we’re becoming known for.
The Malta is South American inspired, the Rootbrew is quintessential summer, and the Moka Cola delivers like a classic. There is an entire process happening under the cafe that requires carbonation ratios which keeps me excited and on my toes. I’m always hoping to make people think differently about coffee.
MG: Anyone who visits your shop interior and sees your products can tell that design matters to you. What inspired your design?
JE: I have always appreciated the nostalgia of film, music, and pop culture — it gives a feeling of reminiscing and a sense of familiarity. It’s in those connections that people feel welcomed, so I’m glad to hear the space speaks in that way. I also included images/knick-knacks that tie our farm and connection to Colombia.
MG: What do you want people to know about you?
JE: That specialty coffee is not scary. The same way people understand the terroir of wine, they can understand the varietal of coffee. We’re really hoping that as we grow, we can broaden our offering to also include coffee instruction. Courses like: Introductory to Coffee History, Coffee Bean-from Roast to Brew, or Health Benefits of Coffee. We’re not there yet, but we hope to be, always reaching for ways to share coffee knowledge with our guests.
MG: What is the most important thing for your customers to experience in coming to Paper Plane Coffee?
JE: Coffee for everyone is sensory. From the moment people step into a cafe, they become in tune with a place or time that makes them feel something. Since we roast everything in-house, the cafe has a distinct scent that lends itself to memories. We always hope to capture that for our guests, and usually, we see the way people take deep breaths and perk up once they enter. That fuels us; we respect our ability to remind people of the old while introducing them to the new!
The deep roasting aroma inside the cafe isn’t just for your pleasure, it is the end process of all that work and care – that pure passion to bring you the best coffee from all over the world. So when you visit, be sure to breathe in the smell and enjoy the history and expertise that made it possible. Whatever coffee propels your plane, you are sure to find it at Paper Plane Coffee Co.