What began over twenty years ago as a bootstrapped startup business has grown into a regional powerhouse known as Crimson Cup Coffee. This roaster has managed to scale upward while staying true to their roots and true to their community. Coffee beans are still hand-roasted and quality sourcing still remains at the forefront of every batch.
We spoke recently with Greg Ubert, CEO & President of Crimson Cup to talk about their expansive business, their Clintonville coffee shop, and what we’ll be seeing them display on Saturday at the North Market Coffee Roast:
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the history of your business?
A: In 1991, I started Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea with a mission to blend and roast a better cup of coffee for the Columbus community, my hometown. I called the company “Crimson Cup,” for the ripe red berry of the coffee tree. Then, with a modest investment from my parents and a couple of friends, I rented a small 1,200 square foot office and bought a small blue coffee roaster. I began experimenting. Colombian beans with African. Mexican beans with Sumatran. And when I finally had a few blends that I felt good about, I started selling to Columbus businesses and coffeehouses. My first clients had a passion for coffee. They didn’t just want to order coffee for their employees and cafes; they wanted an upgraded coffee experience. I soon recognized that brewing awesome coffee wasn’t enough and began spending time helping customers improve their efficiencies and bottom line. By investing in the future of customers, I was investing in the future of Crimson Cup and creating an engaging work life, a fun environment and the ability to carve out time and resources to give back to the community.
Q: What types of coffee-related services does Crimson provide?
A: Our company is involved in nearly every aspect of the specialty coffee business. As an importer, Crimson Cup consultants travel the world to source the best coffee beans, sometimes even visiting and buying from indigenous farmers in remote growing regions. Crimson Cup is an artisanal roaster of fair trade, organic and single origin specialty coffees. All coffee is roasted at 700 Alum Creek Drive in Bexley. Some of our coffees are roasted in micro-lots, others (like Armando’s blend) in larger lots, but every single bean is hand-roasted under the supervision of a master roaster. Crimson Cup also packages and sells coffee for retail sales to outlets including Kroger, Giant Eagle, the Hills Market, and Weiland’s Gourmet Markets, among others. We also offer coffee for retail sale online and at our coffee house at 4541 North High Street in Clintonville.
Q: What can you share with us about your coffee sourcing practices?
A: Transparency has become increasingly more important in the industry and to us. We have established more direct relationships with the growers themselves to know where the beans are coming from and also to help ensure that the farming communities become more sustainable. We began the partnership with Grower’s First because we are dedicated to educating and training the growers. The Grower’s First program allows us to directly connect with the growers to know them on a level beyond the coffee bean. We are the only roasting partner with the global organization. In partnership with Grower’s First, we visit with farmers and the communities to learn first-hand about the impact that we are making on their lives. Through the direct relationship we have been able to provide education to the local farmers about successful farming practices to help produce an extremely high quality bean. We are continuing to work more and more with our growers to keep the integrity and quality of our coffee.
Q: What else does Crimson do to help educate the public on these programs, practices and other important aspects of how you do business?
A: We are proud to be “coffee geeks”, passionate to always learn more about how to make a great cup of coffee.
At the coffee house we offer our customers new products and new experiences. For example, we just recently finished our new brew bar addition where we will create single cups of micro-lot coffees using the pour over method. The brew bar will also feature a new line of loose leaf teas that we created to offer a relaxing, soothing tea experience brewing with the Teaze.
Q: Crimson has been around for 21 years now… how much has the landscape of coffee consumption changed in Central Ohio?
A: Columbus coffee consumers are becoming further attuned to a better cup of coffee and still appreciate (and demand) a great coffee house experience. There are more local coffee houses that are sourcing high quality beans and trying new techniques. We are all continuing to grow the coffee culture here which is great to see. We are all trying new brew methods, we are becoming more conscious about where the coffee beans are grown and the sustainability of the farming regions, and we are passionate to continue to offer a great cup of coffee to Columbus.
Q: Last but not least… what will you be showcasing at the North Market Coffee Roast event on Saturday?
A: You will be able to learn how to brew using a single cup pour over method. We will be serving our La Minita La Magnolia Costa Rican, offering a light body and mild intensity with a beautifully sweet finish. And, you may get to take a little gift home with you from us if swing by our booth!
More information can be found online at www.crimsoncup.com.