Getting your coffee beans into Google’s headquarters might sound like an impossible task. Colby Barr and Ryan O’Donovan didn’t have that goal in mind when they launched Verve Coffee in 2007—they simply wanted to run a café when not surfing.
Verve Coffee became the go-to fuel for many Silicon Valley tech giants by focusing on sourcing great tasting coffee beans and supporting farmers that grow them. Today, Verve Coffee can be found inside coffee bars at companies like Facebook and Salesforce and in thousands of stores, such as Whole Foods and REI.
Below, Colby shares how to grow a brand by focusing on sourcing the best ingredients and establishing meaningful relationships.
How to grow a business on the quality of products and relationships
There are many ways to launch and scale a successful business. For Colby and Ryan, putting quality and community first was a winning recipe. Learn how to grow your own business the Verve Coffee Way
1. Get educated on your industry and product
“I became infatuated with where coffee comes from, the sourcing of it, and the differences between mildly OK coffee, good coffee, and exceptional coffee,” Colby says. Immersing yourself in the culture of your business is vital to understanding how to source the best quality ingredients or materials. Colby was able to differentiate between the type of coffee he wanted for his company and the type he did not want, because he took the time to notice the nuances.
Maintaining a high standard was always important for Colby and his co-founder. He studied what type of coffee was currently on the market and traveled to discover what else was available. “We thought, Who cares what anyone else is doing, let’s just lead the way,” Colby says.
2. Create sustainable relationships with suppliers
Colby has built intimate relationships with farmers and now knows which ones take the most care for their crops and the quality of their coffee beans. “The hand of the farmers is a big part of what I consider,” Colby says.
By visiting farms and establishing true, personal relationships, Colby can more easily select which farmers to work with based on their practices, results, and overall ethics for the growing process.
3. Support the community you work with—and the environment around it
“We worked with a really small community up in Northern Colombia and we planted 60,000 seedlings of an heirloom variety,” Colby says. Working directly with farmers to produce their coffee means Colby and the Verve Coffee team can ensure their production is having a positive effect on the community and environment it’s grown in.
“These producers are actually utilizing these seedlings to not only enhance their own farm, but a lot of them are using them as the impetus to get the next generation involved,” Colby says. Growing heirloom crops allows for more regenerative farming, a process that causes less damage to the soil, promises better crop resistance, and inspires family members to get involved in the process.
By following Colby’s sourcing guidelines, you can grow a single idea into a force making waves in an established industry.
Tune in to the full Shopify Masters episode to discover more of Colby’s sourcing tips and his advice for connecting with major brands that can help elevate your business and increase your brand awareness.