Marea Coffee has been called “The Saint Archer of Coffee.” It’s a company that has emerged over the past year and a half with a clearcut business model: to provide the highest quality, small-batch coffee to market in the quickest, most efficient way possible.
The parallels that can be drawn to Saint Archer’s craft beer business are apparent in Marea’s small-batch coffee subscription model, which is backed by many recognizable faces from the adventure sports industry: Rob Machado, Danny Way, Kimmy Fasani and Chris Benchetler, Alphonozo Rawls, Todd Glaser and Taylor Steele.
Each of them play a role in deciding which blends are a part of Marea’s offerings, according to founding partners Loren Laguens, an industry vet who has worked with brands like Hoven Vision, Marea President Grayson Adams and Joe Bettinger.
After a few brainstorming sessions and many beers, Marea Coffee officially launched in Fall 2016. Marea CTO Greg Moser and Director of Marketing Rey Jay Solares came on board shortly thereafter.
For now, Marea is mostly direct-to-consumer, and sells blends sourced from Central and South America, Africa and Asia, but plans for a brick and mortar café is in the works. Also, “plans to launch a subscription for single-origin beans, or those that come from a single country or single farm” are in the works, according to Laguens. “Many coffee connoisseurs consider single-origin the best way to appreciate exactly where that cup is from," he adds.
We caught up with Laguens and Adams to hear more.
Why coffee? How did this group of action sports athletes land on coffee?
Adams: Coffee is enjoyed on a daily basis by millions of people all over the world. None of us believe in those high-sugar energy drinks and we wanted our brand to appeal to the masses.
Our tagline is “enjoy your ritual” because coffee is a very ritualistic part of most people’s day. Whether you are getting up early to go surf, ride a mountain or head into the office, our mission is to make Marea part of that daily routine.
I noticed that one of Marea’s main missions is to make high-quality coffee more accessible to the masses. How are you working to do this?
Laguens: We offer our customers the ability to subscribe or purchase individually, however often they want. We are direct to consumer, so it's your choice to receive weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
Customers can log in and manage their account, hit pause, switch flavors and basically customize their online experience. We have also seen success on Amazon PRIME where people with existing accounts have been stoked to buy Marea through that channel. We currently have customers from different states all over the continental US.
The action / adventure sports retail space is changing and evolving dramatically. Was that a factor that was considered when Marea was being created?
Adams: Yes, we recognized that online sales is the future and will never go away. We fully embraced that and knew by offering a subscription option, we were opening up our brand to everyone, everywhere.
A retail “brick and mortar” coffee shop is on our radar for the near future, however, we are currently focusing on building our brand, selling online, growing our grocery store presence, and we have also found success in corporate accounts by providing offices of all different sizes coffee service.
Speaking of retail, who are your biggest / best partners in the space and how did you go about partnering with them?
Adams: Locally here in San Diego, we are on the shelves at Seaside Market in Cardiff by the Sea. Seaside has been great and they are extremely supportive of local start ups. Loren walked in one day and just asked them if we could sell on their shelves, and they said “yes, that would be awesome” and we were good to go!
You recently released a blend curated by surfer/photographer Todd Glaser. Explain each person’s involvement in curating your coffee offering.
Laguens: The idea behind our team was pretty simple: these are some of the best athletes, photographers, and one of the best cinematographers in the world and they all love coffee.
Todd is the guy that actually brings his coffee/pour over with him wherever he goes – he’s “that guy,” which we absolutely love about him. They’ve experienced coffee from Peru, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Etheopia…you name it, they’ve been there. We wanted to grab that legend; that older gentleman/woman who’s experienced the world and understands what good coffee tastes like and where it comes from.
What do the next steps for Marea’s growth look like? Will you be expanding your offering, where you are sold, any other new elements of the business?
In addition to the DarkRoom roast, we are launching a Cascara Tea with Rob Machado which will be available later this summer.
Cascara is the skin of the coffee cherry that is used to make a loose leaf style tea, which has about 25% of the caffeine of coffee, yet is high in antioxidants and tastes delicious.
We will be rolling out new roasts developed individually by all of our co-owners throughout the next year.
What’s the long term vision for Marea, and how do you see the company evolving in the next 1 to 3 years?
Continuing to make our online presence and customer experience stronger and stronger, expand to more grocery stores and build our corporate account presence as well. Within this time frame we hope to have our first brick and mortar coffee shop become a reality as well.
Any final words or comments about the general state of the market, ways you are looking to support action / adventure sports moving forward, or anything else you’d like to add?
Adams: We are super stoked to announce we recently partnered with the Challenged Athletes Foundation which is internationally recognized and based right here in San Diego. We are their official coffee partner and will be participating in their events moving forward. We couldn’t be happier to be working with such a cool foundation.
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