I received a phone call from my friend last week. He is my primary contact at one of our wholesale accounts (We have a wholesale division of the company, D.b.a. Red Brick Coffee Roasters). This particular wholesale account is unique in that they are a large corporation employing about 1,200 people & they offer Red Brick Coffee as a bona fide employee benefit. Honest!–employees can elect to have $10 per pay period ($1 per work day) deducted from their check for unlimited freshly roasted, freshly brewed specialty coffee.
They’re a delight to work with because they get it. They invested in top notch grinding & brewing equipment. They weigh out each batch carefully & brew at the proper proportion. They keep the coffee fresh. The employees are thrilled–they get their fill of world-class coffee for less than they’d pay for gas station coffee. The employer couldn’t be happier because the number of coffee club members offsets the cost of the program itself. The CEO said in a leadership meeting a couple of weeks ago that he thinks they have, “the best coffee in the world.” Even I think he might be exaggerating a bit, but I won’t complain. To top it off, all of this coffee excellence occurs within a Gold LEED Certified building with a mind toward holistic sustainability. I mean, as a vendor, I couldn’t ask for a better representation of our product. They even compost their coffee grounds & have me deliver all of my chaff from roasting to use in the compost as well.
A few weeks ago, we began including with their weekly coffee shipments a little poster about the week’s coffee. It includes a photo from the farm in addition to all sorts of farm-specific information. It is one of our efforts to connect the consumer to the producer. I think it is valuable because it reminds the consumer of several things: For us, specialty coffee is a luxury; for millions, coffee is a livelihood. Countless lives are involved in our morning coffee when it is considered from seed to cup. Good coffee doesn’t happen by accident; there’s a ton of work involved! My friend/contact there called me to relay an experience. That morning a coworker stopped by his desk to thank him for the coffee information posters….
“I like knowing more about the farm & region where the coffee is grown. I am working to be a more knowledgeable & conscientious consumer & this is a helpful step in that process. I am just grateful that you guys care enough to put in the work to raise awareness about sustainable buying habits.”
The producer is happy because he was paid well for his efforts. I am happy because I am able to make a living doing something [sustainable] that I love. My customer is happy because their coffee program is self-funding & fits perfectly with their guiding principles. The consumer is happy because they’re drinking great coffee, and they know they’re contributing positively to a sustainable supply chain. Now that is gratifying.