As the culture of fresh-roasted specialty coffee continues its permeation through areas previously chock full o’ beans of the more industrialized sort, distributors and wholesalers everywhere are recognizing the value, the benefits and the pleasure of upping their game.
The Fort Smith, Ark.-based beverage wholesaler Coffee.Org is the latest example, as not only do their warehouses store an inventory of over 150 different products all turned around every few weeks, but as of a few months ago, a shiny new piece of equipment went live — a Diedrich, installed for the company’s new fresh-roasted, small-batch product line.
Coffee.Org was founded by Ellie Glidewell and her father Bill McClure in 2008 with a focus on cultivating a customer base of mostly office accounts in cities from coast to coast, primarily with bulk packaged single-serve offerings from a variety of brands from Folgers up through Starbucks. Snacks, brewing equipment and accessories are also kept in stock and ready to ship. “If it’s ordered today, it goes out today,” Bill McClure told Daily Coffee News. Business rapidly expanded into Native American markets, where Coffee.org is now the “primary supplier” of single-serve and other coffee solutions, while Glidewell established her own Miss Ellie’s line of coffees, sandwiches and sweets.
All told, today the company today ships about 130,000 pounds of coffee annually from their two large connected warehouses — a number that is poised to rise a bit with a new line of fresh-roasted products to be offered under the Miss Ellie’s brand. “We just bought our own roaster, and we’re going to buy a second one very soon,” said McClure. “It’s primarily for a specialty-type roasted product. It’s direct trade, and we’re expanding that. We’re just having a lot of fun.”
Greens from Colombia, Costa Rica and elsewhere, acquired through an importing partner based in New Orleans, are roasted in 5-pound batches by roastmaster Gabe Roberts. “He’s our son, he’s the president of the company, and he loves what he’s doing,” said McClure, adding that while their general MO is to establish and train teams of skilled individuals for each department of the family enterprise, knowledge among the leadership comes first — hence Roberts, “a novice” roaster, is the first at Coffee.Org to tame the flame. For their next machine, McClure intends to go much larger and is considering several brands, although he praises the Diedrich and its accompanying software for making excellent results and consistency from roast to roast easy to achieve and to maintain.
The brick-and-mortar manifestation of the Miss Ellie’s coffee brand is actually a coffee shop called Sacred Grounds, a company to which the McClure family bought the trademark rights and physical store. The café reopened in November as the first retail outlet for Miss Ellie’s fresh-roasted line, and though there may come later a Miss Ellie’s branded store, for now they’re maintaining the SG café brand for its appeal to the Native American populations they serve. “We service a number of the native nations,” said McClure, including large hotels and casinos where they intend to establish a presence. “I am a Muscogee Creek, and my grandmother was a full-blood Creek Indian. I’m pretty proud of it.”
So excited are the McClures for their new roasting enterprise that they decided to purchase the premium internet domain name of CoffeeRoaster.com, although not solely for the benefit of Miss Ellie’s, specifically. For McClure, that acquisition was almost a matter of principle. “I’m a domainer. I own 3,000 domains,” said McClure, who counts CoffeeSupplies.com, BusinessCoffee.com, HotelCoffee.com and CheapestCoffee.com among his digital assets, along with HerbalTea.com, Teas.net and more.
The McClure family has also long had a hand in the flower business, hence their online properties Bouquet.com, USAFlorist.com, ExpressFlorist.com and a number of other flower-related sites. McClure’s son Mark McClure is CEO of CommercialInsurance.net, active in 40 states—and so they own BuyAutoInsurance.com, Insurance.org, and so on. “Once I got the coffee roaster, I had to have CoffeeRoaster.com. So I acquired it,” said McClure, who brought the site online in mid-December, though in its initial weeks it remains only sparsely populated.
For the best domains related to businesses the family operates, they build out the websites or at least have them redirect to established, built-out websites. “We still don’t really know exactly what it’s going to be,” said McClure of CoffeeRoaster.com, although the intention for now is to make it a free online directory for small roasters across the US. It will include contact information and presumably a basic overview of the spirit of each listed coffee company, sorted generally by geographic region and with a coffee-populated map somewhere on the site.
The CoffeeRoaster.com project is in its infancy and there’s no specific timetable for its development; it’s just a potentially neat project to watch out for in 2016 and beyond. For more information on the McClure domain dominion, tune your browser in to a website in which McClure takes particular pride. That is, of course, www.McClure.com.