Coffee Subscription Service
Instead of grabbing bagged coffee off of grocery store selves, Regular Coffee twists the concept of coffee consumption. Mass produced coffee beans are manufactured through a variety of automated machinery, emphasizing quantity instead of quality. With quality as priority, Regular Coffee expresses the humanistic element intentionally involved in receiving beans from farmers to handing a tin of roasted beans into customers’ hands.
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Stacks of burlap bags full of green coffee beans, fragrance wafting heavily through the air from the roaster, tins lined up like little soldiers. From the corner of Wealthy Street and James Avenue, Rowster New American Coffee launches the coffee subscription service called Regular Coffee Company. Regular Coffee is pioneering a new way to experience and purchase coffee.
As the managing partner of Regular Coffee and president at Rowster, Kurt Stauffer emphasizes the communal efforts made to formulate the concept, identity, production, and marketing of Regular Coffee.
“The key was creating a broad team with focused talents that we could tap into by providing them with an opportunity to share their creative voice,” said Stauffer. “The driving philosophy was to make this not my project or company or idea, but rather, make it an expression of Grand Rapids’ creative essence, work ethic and scrappiness.”
In comparison, bags of coffee off of grocery store shelves are manufactured in large quantities though a variety of automated machinery. Instead, Regular Coffee expresses quality and the humanistic element intentionally involved in receiving beans from farmers to handing a tin of roasted beans into customers’ hands.
“Regular is our idea to eliminate as many of the steps between getting the pallet of coffee at our roaster and to your door,” said Stauffer. “That way we can help these little shareholder farmers who are fairly impoverished produce more coffee and at least get compensated for the time and energy that goes into producing quality.”
In addition to the quality of coffee beans, Stephen Curtis, vice president of Regular Coffee and Rowster, highlights Regular Coffee’s tasting notes. Complete with a caramel sweetness and dried fruity aroma, Regular Coffee has lightly roasted yet full bodied taste.
“We call it a crowd pleaser,” said Curtis. “The goal is not to have it taste like ‘Regular Coffee’ but more to be the best ‘regular coffee’ you’ve had.”
Through Kickstarter, an online funding platform, Curtis and Stauffer were able to test how their product would be received not only within the marketplace, but also in Kickstarter’s highly competitive atmosphere for funding.
Although Kickstarter is a means to raise funds for innovative ideas, projects submitted on Kickstarter are not always successful in reaching their financial goals.
“Only 10% of all submissions actually meet their goal,” said Stauffer.
Not deterred by the statistics, Curtis and Stauffer moved forward with an open mindset and exceeded their funding goal of $10,000 on Oct. 12, 2012.
Convinced individuals were prepared for the idea of a coffee subscription service, Stauffer and Curtis were pleased by the variety of people who supported Regular Coffee.
“The fact that most of our backers were people we didn’t know also supported our theory that the world was ready for the Regular Coffee concept and that they understood what we were trying to communicate,” said Stauffer. “They felt like they needed to own our package and product on their countertop.”
For Regular Coffee, 165 people pledged their support. In response, following Kickstarter’s protocol, Regular Coffee sends out a variety of rewards corresponding to the dollar amounts pledged.
Rewards range from letterpress posters and store credit to custom Regular T-shirts and monthly subscriptions to Regular Coffee.
“Now that the Kickstarter has ended with successful funding, we have been working on getting the rewards fulfilled,” said Curtis.
Looking toward the future, Curtis, Stauffer and the team of baristas continue to utilize Rowster’s space and equipment to roast beans for Regular Coffee during lulls throughout the day or after hours.
Stauffer credits the efforts and overwhelming support by the team at Rowster with the successful launching of Regular Coffee.
“Working with a bunch of workers that are willing to make sacrifices and give their time and talents so freely is a blessing and an amazing experience,” said Stauffer.
Intending to contribute to the creative essence of Grand Rapids, community impact is significant to Regular Coffee.
“We would love Regular Coffee to be a part of the fabric of what makes Grand Rapids an awesome place to call home,” said Curtis.
Encouraging the ideas of innovative, creative people, Stauffer quoted Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are, with what you have, and do what you can.”