There are two things that always seem to go hand in hand with outdoor adventure: beer and coffee. So when Jax Mariash Koudele opened her coffee company, Stoked Roasters, deciding to sponsor a team of adrenaline-seeking athletes just seemed like a logical next step in the business plan.
"We are the first coffee shop ever to have an athlete roster of folks that are as stoked about their sport as they are about coffee," says Koudele, who provides Team Stoked, a collective of triathletes and cyclists, with her signature coffee blends, all made at Stoked Roasters' Hood River, Oregon, facility.
And why not? After all, other energy-boosting drink companies (we're looking at you, Red Bull) have always chosen athletes as the faces of their brand, and there's perhaps no other beverage so heavily relied upon by outdoor athletes than a cup of campfire joe.
"The synergy between coffee and the outdoors is a wonderful match," says Koudele, who counts Powderbird Heli-Skiing, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, and Windell's Action Sports Camps as retailers (she hopes to land in REI stores one day soon). "Often folks meet up at the coffee shop to get their drinks and then hop in a car together to hit their adventures for the day."
It was Koudele's own passion for the outdoors that led her to build her tasting room in Hood River, a mecca for outdoor athletes thanks to its proximity to the water and the mountains.
"In one single day, you could bike, run, hike, kite, windsurf, SUP, sail, ski, snowboard, and kayak," she laughs. "I'm an ultra-marathoner 'on the side.' I am racing in two 50ks, a 50-miler, a 100k, and a 100-miler this year."
Koudele says her staff is made up of equally enthusiastic outdoorsmen and -women, giving her business a true feeling of authenticity. But it's not just Koudele's passion for the outdoors that has made the one-year-old business a success; it's her deep roots in the world of coffee.
"After eighth grade, I was in a summer program where I worked for the mayor's office of art, culture, and film," she remembers. "One daily task I had was to be the coffee runner."
She used the little spare money the staff gave her to try her first sip — an iced mocha with whipped cream — and she was hooked. A five-year Starbucks job, a small-business degree, a 14-year stint in marketing, and an intensive six-month roasting "apprenticeship" with Jackson Hole Roasters eventually led her to her first storefront and the genesis of Stoked Roasters.
"Being an athlete my entire life has made me fair witness to seeing how coffee fuels the active soul," she says. "Every adventure tends to start with a cup of coffee — so why not make it a really good one?"
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