I’m sitting at my desk working away, enjoying a nice cup of coffee… and it got me thinking, what exactly is a “nice cup of coffee”? It is defined by the brand – Tim Hortons? Starbucks? Is “good” coffee inspired by the person who brewed or served it? Maybe the beans are Fair Trade Certified… Or maybe “good” coffee is all about where the beans came from.
A few years ago I met Jeff Maeck through a mutual friend, and over the last 2 years or so I have gotten to know him better, and grown to respect the multiple interests and admirable personality traits that Jeff has. As I write my next post on another local entrepreneur, I am very excited to introduce someone who is passionate about many things – and has found a way to intertwine everything together. Jeff Maeck and his awesome new business, Jeff’s Coffee Co.
Jeff Maeck of Jeff's Coffee Co.
Tell me a bit about yourself…
I like to think of myself as a story teller. And traveler. Oh, and adventurer. I love people, coffee, visiting new places and meeting new people. Not-so-ironically, Jeff’s Coffee Co. is a combination of all of the above.
In 2007, halfway through my undergrad, I became known by my friends as the only guy to have “some extra money on my line of credit” (-Me, 2007). They said there is no such thing as “extra” money on a debt. I beg to differ. I hopped online with my newfound fortune and booked a cheap flight to Europe for 5 weeks with the rarely safe and now defunct JetsGo ($480! Where have THESE airlines gone?! Oh ya-out of business! Ba dum tsh!). That 5 week trip ultimately was the beginning of my obsession for travel, adventure and people (coffee came a bit later).
How did Jeff’s Coffee Co. start?
In 2009, I was offered a two year contract leading Outtatown, a one year gap/adventure program based in Winnipeg. For the next few years I would travel across the country with thirty-two 18-22 year olds, engage in community projects, teach, mentor and live life alongside these students. Part of the program involved a three month stay in Guatemala where we immersed ourselves in the culture, explored the country, made friends with locals, built houses, drank incredible coffee (the first coffee I ever drank was in Antigua), planted trees and ultimately I fell in love with the country.
I became quite close with a few of our Guatemalan partners who were involved in community organizations and instantly saw a need they had that wasn’t always being met – financial support. These inspirational partners were working tirelessly to meet the needs of others but were never certain if their work would continue to be funded by donors. By my second year leading the program I couldn’t help but think I could do something, even small scale, to contribute to the amazing work they dedicated their lives to. Although I didn’t know exactly what form it would take, I began meeting with friends, pastors, business owners, professors, entrepreneurs-anyone who would hear my story and the restlessness I was experiencing not knowing what to do or how to make a business model that worked.
Jeff’s Coffee Co. was the result 1000’s of cups of coffee with these supporters (I love coffee. Did I mention that?) At this time, we are partnered with Niños del Lago, a non profit in Panajachel, Guatemala and support them with 10% of every bag sold. What that means for our customers is that every single cup of coffee they enjoy has a direct impact on the lives of youth in Guatemala.
Tell me about the type of coffee you sell. Starbucks, Maxwell, Tim Hortons… Where does Jeff’s Coffee Co. fit in?
We offer exclusively Specialty Grade coffee, which is a certification awarded by a Q-Grader (the coffee equivalent of a wine taster). What does this mean? There are 23 certified Q-Graders in the country who taste and grade coffee on a scale of 1-100 based on quality and taste. A bean that scores higher than 80 is considered Specialty, and represents approximately 10% of the world’s Arabica beans (meaning, there is not a lot of it!). Jeff’s Coffee Co. is proud to say we are partnered with a Q-Grader and all of our beans are 100% Specialty! We also roast our beans when they are ordered. Roasted beans do not sit around waiting to be consumed, we make sure they are as fresh as possible when they get into your hands. Our beans also come with a story-we know the farmers. Look for our Direct Trade symbol next to our coffee for a product we buy directly from the farmer and his family.
How does Jeff’s Coffee Co. differ from similar businesses?
Jeff's Coffee Co...100% Specialty Grade, Organic Certified, Fair Trade Certified Beans
Jeff’s Coffee Co. really is multifaceted in our approach to business. On one hand, we offer some of the world’s highest quality coffee. I can confidently say that because we bid on beans at auctions like Cup of Excellence (sometimes, when we really love a coffee, we buy it all and become the sole provider of a certain farmer’s beans).
On the other hand, we are trying to do something bigger than build a brand-we want to build a culture of giving and social responsibility. We’ve learned there is a way to offer a fantastic product and still have an impact on your local and global community. This is what we are about.
For people looking to get involved as customers and partners, what can they do?
If you are a coffee lover-hop on our website and order some beans! We would also encourage you to check out the Niños del Lago’s website and see firsthand the work every bag of beans sold supports.
[Contact Jeff to find out more!]
How would you like people to remember you and your company?
I would want people to remember Jeff’s Coffee Co. as a business that kept razor sharp focus on its mission and promises: to consistently offer the highest quality beans, to continue to support the inspiring work our Non-Profit partners are involved in, to shorten the distance between farmer and consumer, and to engage our customers in a way that shows we truly value them and their decision to partner with us simply by enjoying our products.
I am currently working at developing a coffee subscription model for our customers. In the same way you can subscribe to a magazine and receive it each month in your mailbox (it’s exciting to get mail, isn’t it?) the same will be true of our coffee. It will be shipped directly to your door once (or twice!) a month, every month, for the duration you choose.
What’s your vision for the future?
I would love to bring friends and coffee lovers to the farms where we buy our coffee so they can experience firsthand the amount of work involved in each cup of joe. I think it would be an amazing experience for someone who has been enjoying a Costa Rican or Kenyan or Guatemalan coffee to travel their and shake the farmers hand who spent months growing and caring for the beans that were shipped half way across the world into their cup. These Specialty beans require so much micromanagement and are the lifework of many of the farmers, it would be quite the experience for them to connect.
What I love about chatting with local entrepreneurs is their passion – passion for what they do, passion for the reason they do it, and passion to keep pushing forward. What I also love about getting to know these ambitious professionals and their businesses is that they are awesome people who are supported locally – and beyond – by many. When I asked a few people who know Jeff in different ways to give me a word to describe him, I got: “nicest person you’ve ever met”, “stud”, “generous”, “kind”, “thoughtful”, “committed”, “compassionate”, “fantastic person”… and the list goes on. It takes a certain kind of person to balance multiple passions, combined into one business… and Jeff has what it takes.
When I was in Mexico earlier this month I heard a saying that stuck with me – “good people attract good people”. There is no doubt in my mind that Jeff’s Coffee Co. will continue to be a success; combining your passions in life and really going for your goals is one of the most admirable traits an entrepreneur can have – and Jeff has got it. A huge thank you to Jeff’s Coffee Co. for sitting down with me to talk about the business, and congrats – wishing you all the best!
Check out 5 Reasons to Choose JCCO – make Jeff’s Coffee Co. your next fundraiser!