Two of the specialty roasting world’s leading proponents of direct trade sourcing are combining forces, as Topeka, Kan.-based PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. is acquiring San Diego’s Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.
While en route to relocating to San Diego, PT’s President and Co-Founder Jeff Taylor told Daily Coffee News by phone that in an operational sense, the deal is more of a merger, with Bird Rock and PT’s maintaining their separate brands and roasteries. As part of the deal, Bird Rock Founder Chuck Patton will become the head buyer for both brands.
Taylor said that it is through buying coffee alongside one another for the past 10 years or so that he and Patton not only formed a friendship, but also realized their shared views regarding trading as directly as possible with producers while paying premiums for quality. Both companies are former Roast magazine Roasters of the Year, in large part for their sustainability-minded sourcing efforts.
“We have the same mindset in how we want to source coffee. We want to work with people who are good stewards of the land, we want a good product and we want to make sure they get paid well,” Taylor said of the sourcing plan. “We’ll have a little bit more buying power. We’ll save on travel expenses. And it also brings new coffees to each brand, too.”
Founded in 1993 as a single café, PT’s began roasting in 1997, and the seeds for its direct trade program were planted during a 2001 sourcing trip. Since then, the company’s growth has been largely through wholesale, with clients found throughout the country. Meanwhile Bird Rock’s growth, while also fueled by a direct trade ethos, has been led in large part by its cafés, including a La Jolla flagship, a Little Italy location and a smaller bar within the Morena Blvd. roastery. Said Taylor, “The plan is to keep Bird Rock just as it is — except just grow it.”
Taylor said PT’s currently has plans for three additional stores of its own in its part of the country. “Our retail stores in the midwest can learn from his,” he said of Patton’s experience leading Bird Rock.
Taylor declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.