What’s in a name? A spro by any other name would taste just as sweet. In this conclusion to his 4-part series Sprudge staff writer Zac Cadwalader explores the fascinating back story behind some of specialty coffee’s best brand names. Don’t miss an installment, catch up with part 1, part 2, and part 3 here!

1. St. Ali (Melbourne, Australia)

St. Ali derives its name from Ali ibn Umar al-Shadhili, a fourteenth-century Sufi, the mystical branch of Islam. Al-Shadhili spent some time in the court of the sultanate in Southern Ethiopia, where he learned of a strange berry that promoted wakefulness, which he took back with him to Yemen. He is now considered to be the patron saint of the coffee port of Mocha in Yemen as well as of coffee drinkers, producers, and shop proprietors.

2. Switch Coffee (Tokyo, Japan)

“‘Switch’ is very common word. Everyone can read and pronounce it, even in Japan. In our neighborhood in Tokyo, there are a lot of elders and people that can’t speak or read English well, but ‘switch’ is an easy word for them. Everyone knows the sound ‘switch’ and understands the object ‘switch’ (for turning on a light). And it’s an easy word for foreigners. That’s why I didn’t choose a Japanese name for the shop.” – Masahiro Onishi, owner

3. Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters (Kansas City, Missouri)

“The idea for the name basically came about sitting around in a garage brewing beer, roasting coffee, and talking about life. We chose ‘Thou Mayest’ after reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The fulcrum of the book hangs on this concept of ‘timshel’, which, as Steinbeck explains, means ‘the way is open.’ He highlights and celebrates the power of choice in the book. It’s really all about freedom, and if that doesn’t get your flags waving, well, better drink another cup.” – Bo Nelson, co-owner

4. Verve Coffee Roasters (Santa Cruz, California)

Founders Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr are both musicians who met playing vintage keyboards in college, and music led them to uncover a shared passion for high-quality coffee. The name Verve, which refers to the excitement and enthusiasm behind the creation of art, captured the “art” behind the sourcing and roasting of coffee, the retail store experience, and the lifestyle O’Donovan and Barr wanted the company to embody.

5. Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters (San Francisco, California)

Originally used as a fill-in title until owners Nicholas Cho and Trish Rothgeb came up with something permanent, the name “Wrecking Ball” symbolized a fresh start, a destroying in order to rebuild. “The problem was that it seemed like too aggressive a name for the brand we wanted to start,” Cho states. “But as things progressed, we came up with a design concept that would juxtapose that name with an elegant script and a toy-like image for the logo, and we decided to go with it.” Cho’s alternate explanation for the name? “Miley. Obvs.”

Zac Cadwalader is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Dallas, Texas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

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