Lord Windsor began canning their cold brew—and then Costco called

When it comes to Lord Windsor, the roaster and coffee shop that serves Alamitos Beach, it is common to forget just how ahead of the curve they were and remain.

The now-ubiquitous third-wave coffee shop—from Confidential and Cuppa Cuppa to Recreational and Rose Park—was non-existent when Lord Windsor owners/spouses Wade and Lindsay Windsor first opened in 2012, let alone a third-wave roaster and coffee shop.

The now-common bottled cold brew, like Black Ring Coffee was doing while they were still a cottage business working out of MADE? It was also non-existent in the city when, in 2014, the shop began bottling their addicting brew, utilizing Long Beach artist Jake Crowley for the first iteration of its artwork.

Lord Windsor was a trailblazer in the caffeinated world of Long Beach—and they are continuing the spirit of boundary-breaking by offering short, colorful cans—designed by Long Beach artist Sayer Danforth—filled with their cold brew both at their shop and, oh yeah, at Costco.

Uh huh. That Costco. Surprised? The line forms behind the Windsors.

“Okay, I have to admit, the whole Costco thing is a trip,” Wade Windsor said. “When they first approached us, I thought, ‘I’m not getting into bed with such a massive company.’ Nope. But after my wife smacked me upside my head and we started chatting with them, we realized they’re a great account for us. They didn’t want us to change our taste profile at all. They didn’t want us to change our branding at all, they just wanted a lot of what we were making. In the wholesale world, that’s unique—accounts will wrestle with you over everything and then order a couple pounds.”

This isn’t “a couple pounds.” Hundreds of Lord Windsor’s cans of caffeinated delight are on full display at Costco and available for purchase but it wasn’t as if this was just an instantaneous offer.

Windsor had to first demo the product; what Costco lovingly calls “roadshow” a popup table along one of its massive aisles to sample and sell people on the product. This allows Costco to assess whether folks dig the product—for those that are Costco newcomers or haven’t been (who are you?), the company is famously strict about quality control, hence their limited options. They want to serve what is best for the price, not provide people with endless options while allowing the business owner to get a feel for Costco members.

And Windsor got more than a feel.

“I will totally admit it. I had a little sadistic inspiration within me thinking about trying to sell something like specialty cold brew to a demographic that was outside of the snobby coffee comfort zone,” Wade said. “And boy did we get a visceral response when we were demoing it.”

Some were in love, marveling at the chocolate-ly coffee drink while some—directly in front of Windsor—flat-out spit it out. As with all things, there’s a learning curve and, as with all Costco members, taste runs the spectrum. Where some prefer a creamy, sweet iced coffee, others can appreciate the taste of unadulterated coffee.

Either way, their cans now sit on the shelves of Costco in all their floppy glory.

“The canning process is a monster in itself and we were naïve to that for sure, especially with a still liquid,” Wade noted.

A lack of carbonation makes the cans “soft,” wrinkled and dented even when unopened. At first, it irked Windsor, but then a customer gave them the affable dub of “floppy boys,” thus entering Lord Windsor—at least on a local level—into the lexicon of tall boys, growlers, and crowlers (but for coffee).

“It’s a massive work in progress,” Wade said. “But, in the meantime, we’re proud of our floppy boys.”

You can find Lord Windsor’s canned cold brew at their shop, located at 1101 E Third St., or at the Signal Hill location of Costco, located at 2200 E. Willow St. 

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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