1. How did you and Christi come up with the idea for Independence Coffee Co. (ICC)?
Back in 1996, I had a friend that brought me a bag of coffee from Ethiopia from Amsterdam. I was blown away and hooked immediately. For the next five years, I spent countless hours researching and tasting coffees from all over the world. In 2001, Christi and I were driving in an old part of Brenham, Texas and saw an old ice cream shop that was vacant and for rent. Within two weeks we were up and running in the coffee business. A few months later, we were roasting our own coffees for our shop as well as many others in our garage. The first year we roasted 1,800 lbs. of coffee. This year, 2023, we are fortunate enough to roast over 800,000 pounds of high grown Arabica coffee!
2. Do you physically source coffee beans yourself?
Yes. We utilize both trading partners and purchase direct as well. We are also proud to say that we source at least 30% of our coffees from Women Owned partners!
3. How do you come up with the names for ICC roasts?
I am a HUGE Texas history buff. So back in 2002, I came up with iconic blend names from iconic people, places, and all things Texas. Names like Old 300, Founder’s Pride, etc. Our pecan roast was named after our daughter Madalyn, who literally picked pecans in our backyard and hand delivered them to a pecan processing plant next door to our house. We then added the shelled pecans to Madalyn’s Backyard Pecan (it is our second-best seller). I came up with our number one selling Jet Fuel® Blend late one night while roasting on our farm. I have a United Airlines pilot friend and I wanted to come up with a dark, creative blend for him and his pilot buddies. Jet Fuel® was born and is now purchased throughout the U.S. in grocery stores, convenience stores, on Amazon and on our website!
4. What are your personal favorite roasts, and why?
Coffee is a very ‘personal’ gift for each person. For me, my favorites vary by day and by season. Like many others, my first experience with craft coffee was Starbucks coffee. Back then, the darker the better! Some days I enjoy a very light roast that really allows the blends tasting attributes to shine though. Light roasts carry a really bright acidity and complexity due to the lower roasting times and internal bean transformation versus dark roasts. If I had to pick two, they would be on both ends of our offering spectrum. JackHammer is a dark, bold, and even syrupy blend that leans on Indonesia and Central/South American origins. Our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is light roasted and you can really sense an herbal if not lemony feel on your palate. Basically, light roast in the summer and dark in the winter for me!
5. What excites you the most about where ICC is heading?
We have always put our best foot forward in everything we do. From suppliers to employees to our customers. From Day One, innovation has been at the heart of what we do. When the big guys decided that sustainable packaging was too costly and they put environmentally friendly packaging formats on the back burner due to costs, we stepped in even with our small size and market footprint. We launched a recyclable single serve cup in 2015. No one else was doing this. In 2020, we launched a fully compostable pod that only five companies in the US are currently licensed by BPI to produce. This month, we are launching a cold brew concentrate for the grocery shelf and for foods service customers that is SUPER-Concentrated. The result is a cold pressed beverage that produces 2X the product as normal concentrates. It’s a ton of work to come up with new ideas and product options as a medium-sized company, but I guess you’d say being the underdog excites me every day!