Soon to celebrate its first birthday as a specialty roaster and brick-and-mortar coffee retailer, Honest Coffee Roasters in Franklin, Tenn., is poised to grow bigger and stronger in year two, with more roasting, an expanded wholesale program, a cold brew rollout and an additional retail presence.
As part of the greater Nashville market but certainly within a city and community all its own in Franklin, Honest Coffee has some stiff competition locally, although Honest co-roaster and green buyer Brice Sturmer recently told Daily Coffee News there’s plenty of opportunity on all fronts, especially when you remove those local and regional borders.
“For wholesale, we’re looking more at all over the U.S.,” said Sturmer, who came to Honest from Luna Coffee in De Pere, Wis., and is sharing roasting duties with David Morris, an alumnus of local outfits including Crema Coffee Roasters and High Brow Brew.
Sturmer added that the company is maintaining its focus on local restaurants and cafés, but that it’s also working to add more multiroaster café accounts farther afield. At the Honest Coffee flagship roastery and bar inside Franklin’s Factory retail complex, a Probat P-12 is running approximately three days a week. Said Sturmer “We’re setting ourselves up for some big growth, and we’d like to see that get to six.”
Part of the immediate growth plan is an in-development, direct-to-consumer subscription service, and the company is planning on rolling out some form of cold brew later this year. “We’re working really hard on doing some cold brew in the area, looking to do some flash-brewed cold coffee,” Sturmer said. “The demand for cold brew here is insane.”
From its beginnings, Honest Coffee has been big on collaborations, most recently partnering with Nashville Lifestyle brand Oil and Lumber for a packaged coffee and with the L.A. band Johnnyswim, which formed in Nashville, for a merch table coffee. One of the most natural collaborations is forthcoming at a new location of Franklin Juice Co., where Honest Coffee co-owners Brett Kelley and Bill Butler are also ownership partners. A third company in which the business partners are invested is Five Daughters Bakery, and all three brands have storefronts within The Factory.
“We’re all growing together,” Sturmer said of the close-knit family of companies. Franklin Juice Co. is soon to open a new cold-press juicery in the 12th South location, where Honest Coffee will be featured in part through a new Slayer espresso machine.
Meanwhile, back at the roastery, Sturmer said the team is hoping to head into this new growth phase with a range of new and compelling coffees. Honest currently does the majority of its green sourcing through importing partner Olam Specialty Coffee, although Sturmer said they may be adding to the portfolio through a relationship with the Burundi-focused Long Miles Coffee Project or even some direct relationships with producers.
“There’s a lot of interest from our wholesale accounts for transparent coffees,” Sturmer said. “We’re really looking forward to getting into some direct relationships, or at least working with some more importers who are doing interesting things.”