How a coffee company from Cincinnati found a home in Hoover.
Zach and Hillarie Renta love coffee—good coffee. But with no locally owned venture open near their home in Hoover, the couple started looking into the java business themselves. “Neither of us had been in the coffee business before, but were interested. I’m in small business consulting and finance as my main career and thinking of my next venture to try for a while,” Zach says.
The Rentas connected with a couple out of Cincinnati that had their coffee trailer and business listed for sale. “We thought on it for a while after we found it, and really liked what the people that had it were able to do with it up there,” he says. After careful consideration, Zach and Hillarie drove to Cincinnati one weekend and came back to Hoover with a coffee business.
The aptly named Wandering Coffee Company truck brings coffee roasted in Birmingham to communities in Hoover and surrounding areas. “We have a main blend that we use for espressos and our batch brew that comes from Non-Fiction Coffee Company,” Zach explains. “We also have some single origin coffees that we serve.” Single origin coffee is grown within a single known geographic location, a single farm or a specific collection of beans from a single country. “We get our single origin coffee from Revelator Coffee, and have started reaching out to other roasters around the country to bring some other options to the truck.”
Good coffee comes from not only quality coffee beans, but also the roasting process. “Our roaster actually trained us on some of the specifics, and we are both very motivated self-starters. Hours and hours of YouTube got me where I am today as far as coffee knowledge, and I am still learning,” Zach says.
November 10, 2018, marked the first day out for the coffee truck setting up at locations in Bluff Park such as the park, Hoover Fitness, Past and Presents and The Joyful Food Company. Coffee drinkers are already selecting their favorites that the truck serves. “Our most popular is a vanilla latte, or any of our lattes. Our large size drink is 12 ounces, and we try to keep a strong focus on the coffee as opposed to the flavoring,” Zach says. Compared to other chain coffee houses, Zach says the coffee at Wandering Coffee Company is a little less sweet, and carries a much richer flavor of coffee.
Zach starts every day with a pour-over – essentially just a regular cup of coffee you can control every aspect of, from grind size to water temperature to water flow. “I like a pour-over because it brings out the full character of the roast and produces the best cup of coffee in my opinion,” he says.
While on the truck, Zach switches to either a double shot or a cortado, which is just a double shot with a couple of ounces of steamed milk. Hillarie goes for a caramel cappuccino. “We are here to get you through your day with a great cup of coffee and a pleasant experience for sure,” Zach says.
Suggestions for the customer on coffee
The Rentas suggest a Wandering Coffee Company latte as the drink of choice for folks who aren’t big on coffee. There is more milk to tone down the taste of the espresso in it. “Our coffee isn’t a traditional ‘strong’ coffee,” Zach adds. “A lot of people associate dark and bitter with good, strong coffee, and that’s just not the case. A strong light roast coffee can pack as much (or more) of a punch without all the burnt and smoky flavors of a darker roast. Our beans land somewhere in the middle and provide a well-balanced coffee.”
On the move
The Rentas rolled into 2019 with a new business and a passion to bring good brew to their city and community. The Wandering Coffee Company hopes to be part of a growing business community on the bluff. Follow the truck @thewanderingcoffeeco on Facebook and Instagram.