This week, Jen Park, co-owner, writes an insightful post about partnerships. We have had a long standing relationship with Intelligentsia based in Chicago, and the photos below are from a recent trip.
As a small business owner, it is easy to get stuck. To get stuck in ideas or stuck in ways of doing something. And change, is a necessary survival tool for any business. An ability to shift and adjust a perspective a tradition or a method is vital to success in any industry.
Coffee, in our fifteen plus years of being in business, has changed dramatically. Now, there are many larger and smaller roasters offering pretty incredible coffees. But, for over ten years, our main coffee partner Intelligentsia, has continued to blow us away with their coffee and their continued commitment to a unique relationship with us. Intelligentsia itself has grown and changed a great deal since we started purchasing their coffees: they were the first of many roasters to adopt the Direct Trade model of traveling to origin and paying farmers more than Fair Trade was guaranteeing. They have continued to grow their retail locations and their wholesale accounts all the while insisting upon excellent coffee.
Personally, I find that this mutual sense of commitment to change and insistence upon quality are two out of the three reasons why we are such good partners. The third and probably most important piece is: the people. This past week, we had a chance to visit Intelligentsia’s Roasting Works in Chicago for some training, tasting, and catching up. Immediately upon arrival, we were greeted with an offer to join in on a cupping, have some tea, go out to lunch, and offered dinner at someone’s house with his family. And while we can chalk this up to mid-western hospitality, there is also a unique quality that runs through everyone we talked to at Intelligentsia: they are genuinely passionate about what they do and think highly of Intelligentsia as a company.
To us, things like employee satisfaction at a company are essential factors that inform our choices. And it is a unique place where employees you meet talk about “our” store or “our” coffee. Recently, in coincidence with the opening of our third location, we have renewed an exclusive relationship with Intelligentsia in which we will streamline our retail offerings. You will likely see a wider range of coffees offered from Intelligentsia and fresher coffee on the shelves. While we are aware that some customers will be disappointed with the loss of Counter Culture and Stumptown, we are excited to offer, what we think, are exceptional coffees.