BOULDER — A Boulder-based coffee roaster has received vendorship in Patagonia Provisions Inc.’s national marketplace, the food and beverage arm of the popular retailer Patagonia Inc.
The partnership, agreed upon in December, allows Patagonia Provisions to sell coffee on its website that was purchased from Boulder’s Ampersand Coffee Roasters LLC, thus increasing exposure for the Colorado company. About three weeks ago, five different 12-ounce-bagged roasts hit Patagonia’s online shelves.
Kurt Hans, CEO of Ampersand Coffee, began his journey into coffee 20 years ago.
“One day I just decided to research coffee and figure it out. Was it a plant? Was it grown above ground with trees, or bushes, a shrub, or was it underground like a peanut?” Hans said. “I didn’t know, so I researched it and figured out where coffee came from and realized the kind of exotic reach of coffee around the globe.”
He learned about Fair Trade USA, a global network of producers that provide livable, appropriate wages and humane work environments to workers. The organization also grants seals of certification only to environmentally conscious brands. A portion of money made from Fair Trade Certified products goes into the Community Development Fund, which then returns to the producer.
In 2015, Hans left his job at a private equity firm and founded Ampersand Coffee. At that time the company operated out of Gunbarrel with a roasting facility and a tasting room. It’s currently roasting in Boulder and has the Ampersand Coffee Roasters tasting room at 6560 Odell Place, Unit C.
Along with being Fair Trade Certified, the coffee beans are organically grown.
“We do 100% organic because it’s good for the local environments where the coffee is grown; there’s no chemicals that are washing it down the river to other people who are going to drink it,” Hans said.
Ampersand partners with International Women’s Coffee Alliance and Cafe Femenino, two organizations that fight for gender equality in coffee farm communities. A large portion of Ampersand’s coffee is sourced through Cafe Femenino, a co-op system advocating for women farming in 10 countries including Peru, Guatemala, Sumatra and Colombia.
Hans said that Patagonia has strict rules when vetting potential vendors regarding Fair Trade Certification and sustainability. Seeing that the two businesses shared similar values led to the partnership.
“I think they really liked how we understand the women’s empowerment issue — women’s empowerment is also something that Patagonia understands and gets — but I think even more than that, it’s our pursuit of the regenerative organic standard for coffee,” Hans said.
Hans said that selling to Patagonia is “a bright spot,” for the company, which like many have pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic. While he does not know how Patagonia is directly impacting revenue at this stage, he said that it’s quickly becoming a top buyer. Ampersand is moving toward selling full pallet orders — 20 boxes of 12 coffee bags.
In recent weeks the Boulder tasting room has dropped in foot traffic by 60 percent. Hans said the customers it does have buy more than normal so sales there are stable. On the wholesale side, Ampersand is at a 90 percent reduction in orders from coffee shop, business office and restaurant clients.
Hans said that despite fewer orders overall, the orders that are made are large in quantity. He’s noticed an uptick in sales from Ampersand’s website, Patagonia and grocery stores.
All 10 employees are still receiving full-time hours and are working on internal projects such as social media marketing and equipment and machinery repairs and upgrades.
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