Atlanta-based coffee and tea company Thrive Farmers is opening a production roastery alongside two retail coffee bars at Auburn University in Alabama, upping the level of coffee quality and coffee education around campus.
Integrating with Auburn’s new School of Hospitality Management, the roastery and one of the coffee bars, called [email protected], are located inside the brand new, $110 million Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center.
The other retail shop is located next door, at the public Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.
The Thrive roastery and bars add to the six-story Rane Center’s flexible mix of spaces, including culinary labs, an exhibition kitchen, classrooms, a fine-dining teaching restaurant with a two-story wine room, a luxury hotel and spa, a rooftop garden and lounge, and a food hall. Next spring these will be joined by a craft brewery and a micro-distillery.
“We have already had the opportunity with the new coffee director to present in the classroom and we are very excited about the future,” Thrive Farmers Co-Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer Ken Lander told Daily Coffee News. “It is our plan to engage in the academic program in the classroom by teaching roasting and coffee shop operations. We hope that groups of students will come to origin and learn the terroirs of coffee and learn about production. We hope in the future that the next generation of farmers can come and experience internships in the RCSC and have experiences in the demand side of coffee, tea and the world of hospitality.”
Soon, the Auburn orange and blue 12-kilo Diedrich roaster will be firing up for production, and the plan is to have students work with [email protected] Director of Coffee Alex Brown on roasting, drink creation, customer service and other coffee skills.
A Modbar espresso system is installed on the front bar at the Rane Center for teaching, while a 2-group Eversys super-automatic machine handles higher volume periods on the back bar. Mahlkönig Peak and Baratza Sette grinders break beans for espresso and drip, respectively, with the latter methods including Curtis Seraphim pourover systems. Cold brewed coffees and teas are on tap.
Founded in 2011 by Michael Jones, Thrive Farmers was built from the start to transfer more value to coffee producers, by paying higher prices for green coffee, sharing profits with farmers after final sales, and making long-term purchasing commitments.
While the model has adjusted over the years to ensure even more payment to farmers up front, Thrive Farmers has also dabbled in retail partnerships, including the new Auburn openings, the 2019 opening of Dairies Coffeehouse and Cold Brew Bar in Atlanta. Additionally, Thrive Farmers Director of Beverage Quality David Pittman oversees roasting and quality control for the company’s Grower’s Reserve Line at a separate roastery.
Thrive works with additional roasting partners for larger-scale production as a supplier for clients such as fast food chain Chick-fil-A, fruit basket chain Edible Arrangements and restaurant distribution company Gordon Food Service. Thrive Farmers’ growth as a tea supplier this year counted Delta Air Lines among its newest customers.
“Thrive Farmers continues to expand the marketplace for our farmer partners,” said Landers. “With our expansion into tea at scale, we hope to see other agricultural products and their growers find new markets in the future where the farmer can share in the real value of their work downstream in the value chain.”
[email protected] is now open at the front entrance of Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center on the corner of South College Street and Thach Avenue in Auburn. Tell DCN’s editors about your new coffee shop or roastery here.
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.