There’s been some news “brewing” lately (See what I did there?) that we wanted to share with you! While we have been a bit quiet on the blog lately, that has not been due to lack of progress as a company, but rather we have been devoting so much of our time to an exciting new opportunity. Specifically, I am happy to announce that as of today, we have opened a coffee shop in Iron River, Michigan under the name of Contrast Coffee Co!
A common question we have gotten is why is the shop not called Mission Arabica? Well, as we have continued to grow in our knowledge and experience in the coffee industry over these past couple years, we have quickly learned the importance of branding and knowing your customer.
When we started Mission Arabica, we viewed our target customer as anyone who drinks coffee and selling to them would help us further the mission we set out to accomplish. Through this method of sales, we happened to succeed quickly in the grocery store market as well as with other organizations (churches, camps, businesses, etc).
Over time though, we learned the things different wholesale customers value (for example, a coffee shop will have different needs of their roaster than a grocery store will). Therefore, Gabe, Adam and I talked a lot about how to best meet the needs of each customer segment. While there were many possible ways to go about doing this, one of the preferred ideas was to create a second brand focused on high end, third wave coffee shops. Ideally, to have this brand succeed, we felt that we needed to have our own coffee shop so we could better relate with coffee shop customers and wouldn’t look like this when trying to sell to them:
Not that we were ever that bad, but you get the idea… haha
While we threw the new brand/shop idea around, it was still very much in the idea phase and we were not sure if and/or when it would happen.
Well that was unexpected
However, whether through good fortune or more likely, divine providence, we were contacted unexpectedly by Alex Fields. Alex was a friend of Adam’s (Our Roast Master) who had coffee shop management, barista, and roasting experience and was interested in working with us.
Additionally, another friend of Adam and Alex, owned a building in downtown Iron River, MI (Same town Adam roasts in) and happened to be preparing the storefront of his building to be leased by a coffee shop. However, the coffee shop that was going to go in there didn’t pan out and now the building was available.
Light bulb moment.
All of a sudden the pieces we needed to create this new brand and shop were falling into place. Over the course of a few weeks we worked through forming a new company between Mission Arabica and Alex that would focus on operating a coffee shop and wholesale sales to third wave coffee shop customers. That company became what is now Contrast Coffee.
A Lot of Work To Be Done
While there were many things that really fell into place, I don’t want to make it sound too storybook. There was a lot of work, meetings, time, negotiations, etc that had to go into making this a reality. One of the main things was just getting the Iron River store build out complete and ready to be open. We were originally hoping to be open by early 2016, but we were clearly a bit ambitious in that goal, haha.
That being said, as mentioned at the top of this post, we are happy to announce that we have not given up through the challenges and delays and those efforts are being realized today! As of 10 AM central time in Iron River, MI, Contrast Coffee is officially opening it’s doors to the public and we are ecstatic for what this means in terms of bringing us one step closer to accomplishing our mission!
Two Companies – One Mission
One thing I want to make clear though, is that Contrast Coffee is not replacing Mission Arabica, nor is Mission Arabia quality going to decrease as a result of this addition. If anything, the formation of Contrast will further enhance what Mission Arabica is able to provide. Additionally, Contrast allows us to gain further experience in the coffee industry while simultaneously allowing us to focus both the Mission Arabica and Contrast Coffee brands on targeted customer segments, thereby providing wholesale experiences tailored to each customer’s specific needs.
Best of all, the opening of Contrast Coffee puts us that much closer to reaching our ultimate goal of helping start coffee farms in Laos and other impoverished countries while teaching them to grow and sell high quality coffee. As said in previous post, we want to offer that hand up, not a hand out, in order to help these villages greatly improve their own quality of life, access to clean water, sanitation, medication, education, etc. Contrast makes us that much more able to accomplish the mission.
What You Can Do
At the end of the day, we can try to grow both of these companies and accomplish our mission, but without the help of other people, we could never make this a reality. Therefore, I have two asks:
Getting the word out about what we are doing is critical for our success. Believe it or not, Likes/Shares/Tweet/Etc all do more than you would ever realize in helping us get the word out. Therefore, if you believe in what we are trying to accomplish at Mission Arabica and now also Contrast Coffee, please share this post and tell your friends about us.
If you run an establishment (or know someone that does) that uses coffee in any way, I’m confident that we can help significantly improve your coffee experience. And with the addition of our Contrast Coffee line, that establishment can be as particular as a high end third wave coffee shop or as simple as a small country church with a coffee pot on the back table. Either way, we can get you set up with the coffee that best meets your needs and price point. Additionally, we work with you to make sure your coffee it is being brewed properly to ensure an incredible cup every time!
With all that said, thanks for your time in reading through our long overdue update and I look forward to sharing the new progress we will be able to accomplish with the addition of the Contrast brand!