Nearly 20 years ago, as Theta Ridge Coffee Founder Kevin Kuyers was seriously considering switching career paths by heading into coffee, he hired a market research firm to look into the viability of a coffee importing business situated squarely in the Midwest — in South Bend, Ind., to be exact.
“A lot of people said, ‘an importer in the Midwest? That’s crazy. We’re all on the East Coast or West Coast,’” said Kuyers, a Wisconsin native, adding that after months of research, the firm came back and said, “‘Oh yes, the roasters that are in the Midwest are looking for people like you.’”
The firm’s findings have been confirmed by Theta Ridge’s 19.5 years in business, and the company is currently in the process of moving into an expanded headquarters in a 16,000-square-foot facility on the northwest edge of South Bend. Kuyers told Daily Coffee News that the company hopes to complete the four-mile move by Monday, June 19.
“It’s a much bigger space, and we need it because we’re growing in everything that we do,” said Kuyers, who came to coffee all those years ago from hospitality sales after connecting with family friends in Kenya who owned a coffee farm. “I invested in their farm, and then we started exploring how we could get their coffee here to the United States, so we opened up Theta Ridge Coffee and started importing, then diversified into all the other areas that we work in.”
The new Theta Ridge HQ provides greater opportunity to expand all those areas, with a much larger green storage area for Theta Ridge’s own coffees and logistics services, cafe supplies for roasters that have retail operations, a dedicated cupping lab that Kuyers hopes to make SCA-certified, and room for home-roasting-related inventory.
Theta Ridge launched an online shop two and a half years ago, making green coffees available in portions as small as a single pound, and Kuyers said that side of the business has been key to the company’s recent growth. Theta Ridge has been splitting bags of greens since its inception, a move that caters to home roasters as well smaller commercial roasters who may just be getting started or who want a more diversified menu.
“A lot of these smaller roasters want to offer variety, but they can’t afford to buy that big 132-pound bag or 154-pound bag,” Kuyers said. “They can afford to buy 25 pounds at a time and work their way through those coffees until they’re ready to buy some more. That way they have an advantage over their competitors.”
Kuyers said that as much as the larger digs will be beneficial to the company’s three full-time employees, he’s also excited about the prospects it presents for clients, home roasters and anyone else who may be generally coffee-curious. The company has been holding regular public cuppings, posting open invites on Facebook and drumming up interest through its newsletter, and those events will now happen in the greatly expanded cupping lab.
“It seems like every month we’re growing,” Kuyers said. “We’re really excited to move.”
Theta Ridge Coffee’s new headquarters is located at 6879 Enterprise Dr., Suite 200, South Bend, Ind.