Mouth, an online reseller of indie food products like jerkies, pickled stuff and candy bars from smaller sellers throughout the United States, has launched a coffee line with participation from a solid list of U.S. roasteries.
Unlike with some curated resale models, the Mouth team buys bagged whole bean coffee in bulk and handles all the resale shipping from its New York-based storehouse, something Mouth founder Craig Kanarick says is a “small, double-edged sword,” in that it simplifies the transaction for roasters, but it does mean some extra shipping for coffees.
“We’re really good at putting a lot of care and craft into the way that we pack and ship the product. We don’t need our coffee partners doing extra work in those areas of their business,” Kanarick recently told Daily Coffee News. “This way, too, the customer knows that when they order something, we have it in stock.”
Mouth launched with a New York food focus more than two years ago, but expanded its partnerships nationally last May, now selling some 1,000 products from “indie” producers in 40-plus states.
With the help of a coffee consultant, the Mouth team put about three months of research into roasteries. Then, following a week of cupping, Mouth began to reach out to clients for wholesale orders. The company launched its coffee line earlier this month, with coffees from such roasters as PT’s, Coava, Madcap, Passion House, Ozo, Kuma, Anodyne, Olympia, New Harvest, Deeper Roots and its New York neighbor, Brooklyn Roasting. From the outset, Mouth wanted to showcase a wide geographical range among its roasteries in order to illuminate some of the good work being done outside the country’s biggest coffee cities.
Much as it controls the transaction with the consumer, Mouth writes all of the copy for each of the coffees, as well as profiles for each of the roasteries.
“These are craftspeople, and they are really good at making their product, whether it’s coffee or cookies or pickles,” Kanarick says. “We try to be really good at telling a story and marketing, and we’re trying to bring these two things together.”
Kanarick says the coffee program is still so new, it’s hard to determine what depth of information on coffees, roasters or other sourcing issues will play best with consumers. “We fight this battle all the time at Mouth,” he says. “We’re still trying to figure out what level of information our customer wants.”
Asked what the general response was from roasters when approached by Mouth for a potential wholesale deal, Kanarick says, “It was a complete mix,” from some companies jumping in headfirst while others wanted no part of it.
“I’m calling to say I want a bunch of your coffee wholesale,” Kanarick says. “Then they say what are you going to do with it? There were a few, and not a lot, who said, ‘We won’t do it. We’re too worried about quality. We don’t know you guys, and we’re not sure what you’ll do with it.’ “