A Box Full of Stories…
JT said it best:
Step 1 – Get yourself a small box
Step 2 – Put your beans in the box
And so on…
Meet the Bean Box boys – co-Founders Ryan Fritzky and Matthew Berk bucked the trend of launching yet-another-technology-startup by focusing on common ground – coffee. They realized the link that coffee made for them in both their professional and personal lives. Whether talking to customers about products, engineers about software design, or friends about new experiences – the common theme was that these conversations were always over coffee. When buying holiday gifts for customers they would always go to ETG in Fremont. All the dots were connecting – and that’s when the idea struck for Bean Box.
I met Fritzky and Berk at one of my favorite café’s in Seattle – Milstead and Co. – to talk coffee beans. When I asked them about how they were taking the ‘coffee of the month club’ concept and making it different their answer was simple – Seattle roasters all have interesting personal stories and unique roasting processes. They don’t follow a generic method where every roaster takes the same green beans and creates the same roast. Each roaster has a different style and ways to roast coffee. The same way Cabernet from two adjacent vineyards can taste completely different once a winemaker has plied his trade. Roasting is a nuanced processes which evokes different flavors from the bean that vary based on technique. Fritzky stated, ‘we want to bring people in, help them appreciate the art of roasting and make these different styles accessible to customers.”
I asked Berk and Fritzky about their mission with Bean Box and they noted three key elements:
- Discovery – Helping people find great coffee and to change the culture of coffee as a convenience and habit for most
- Freshness – as a rule in the US, coffee isn’t fresh – all roasters have a window when it’s fresh and many times what we’re drinking is past the time when flavor is at its peak
- Accessibility – helping people to explore what we take for granted in Seattle
The roaster roster for Bean Box is evolving and now includes Kuma, Lighthouse, Herkimer, Seven, Ladro, Broadcast, Tin Umbrella and most recently they featured– Keala’s which uses beans from Hawaii. More local roasters are being added often.
Is coffee really that complex? Are their coffee connoisseurs? You bet. Berk and Fritzky proudly call themselves ‘coffee geeks’ and are finding that people are as into their java as much as others are into wine. Before starting Bean Box, the pair developed and patented a mobile app as a ‘recommendation exchange’. What they found was that people avidly used the platform to share their experiences with coffee, brewing equipment, roasters and cafés. Berk added, “Generally, people don’t have palates developed for coffee and we can help them. People gather over coffee and it brings them together. They also want to share their experience and we give coffee mavens the platform to do so.”
So What Do I Get With Bean Box?
Here’s what you get when you order from Bean Box:
- For $20/month you get four 1.7 ounce sample bags of each roast with their roast date noted. Roasts range from dark to light and give the customer a sample of different flavor profiles for comparison.
- Each box has an insert that tells about each roaster, their stories, tasting notes and comments on the coffee.
- Every month, you’ll get four new varieties from different Seattle-based roasters. Also, customers can re-order 12 ounce bags of any roast they love.
What else makes Bean Box different than those other subscription coffee services shipping to your door? Freshness. They ship beans to customers that are always roasted just the day before. Normally there’s a 14 day lag for coffee beans by the time they get to customers after they’ve been roasted, shipped to a warehouse and then to customers. Berk added, “Double shipping just kills the beans and flavors.”
How Are They Doing So Far?
Apparently, there is a large market for the product as Bean Box did a ‘soft launch’ in mid-September and shipped to 34 different states as well as two Canadian provinces. Customers range from those who want to experience Seattle coffee culture to locals shipping beans to their friends from afar to those that have emigrated from Seattle and want a taste of home.
If you are looking for a way to diversify your Seattle coffee experience, share with friends around the globe, get your fix if you are further afield, or even offer a new perk for your team at work – Bean Box should be at the top of your list. For more information, check out Beanbox.co or check out the company’s Facebook page.
*Portions of this story originally appeared in Seattle Weekly