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Why Do We Grow?

Posted by Honor Forte on

Since we've made a lot of changes over the last year we wanted to start sharing monthly insights into Olympia Coffee's company goals and vision. We thought a great first topic would be "Why We Choose to Grow as a Company". As Director of Sales I wanted to share the reasons I'm always excited to see growth here, from my perspective.
The first thing to know is that we are, above all else, a Quality of Life company. You'll see this in some of our marketing, but that is the lens through which decisions are made - high quality coffee is our product and passion as a company, but great coffee wouldn't be sustainable, or interesting to us day after day if we couldn't ultimately create a better world for our farmers, staff and customers. With that lens, how does growth create a higher Quality of Life for everyone involved? 
First, it builds strength and efficiency at our coffee's origins. I think Sweetheart is a great example of this. All of our coffees have been Direct Trade for a long time, with us offering the highest base-rate to coffee farmers we know of in our industry, but still, it would be impossible to make an impact on farmers lives if we only bought the highest quality 1% of their total production. However, in 2013 that's where we still stood with some of our best producers. By opening our third store and growing our retail presence, we were able to approach our best partnerships with a new concept: we can now purchase even more of your coffee, at industry topping pricing, by buying multiple tiers of quality. By having more stores, and more customers, Sweetheart allowed us to go far deeper with a farmer than before. And Sweetheart has grown year after year itself, allowing farmers to sell more of their coffee to us at Sweetheart level prices rather than at commodity levels - a price difference that more than doubles their income for the same pound of coffee. This example could be applied to almost any coffee you see in our lineup today as we've been able to increase pay and efficiency in all of our origins through the new Fair For All standards.
Our most tangible benefit from growth though is with you and me, the staff of Olympia Coffee. By simply growing our size we are now able to offer more jobs that pay above a living wage in our community. With more jobs, comes more management positions, and with 90% of management positions filled from internal applicants we're able to help move people up from base pay even quicker than ever before. Through our growth we've been able to consistently add benefits too. When I started here we still had to take our paper paychecks to the bank every week - with only 2 stores, and 10 total employees, direct deposit wasn't financially an option yet in 2010 - let alone paid-time-off, healthcare, sick-pay, employee origin trips, an HR department, management tiers, monthly check-ins etc. These are all things we now have because we've opened 3 more stores and added more than 100 new wholesale customers since those days and I know the company is carefully weighing which benefit we get to add next based on our recent growth.
Lastly, we wouldn't be able to do any of it if it weren't for customers, so we view our growth as something that ultimately benefits them. By increasing our total size and efficiency at origin we're able to commission more custom, unique, and rare coffees for our nerdiest customers, and get more consistent and exciting daily offerings for our regulars.  Through our growth we've also been able to create a more fun and engaging retail environment with new drinks,  more merch options, and advanced customer service styles that you don't find at an average cafe. Most importantly though, we give our customers the opportunity to support coffees and efforts they can be proud of, helping them turn a daily ritual into a point of pride and mindfullness rather than a commodity. Further, I could write an essay on how we've been able to help wholesale customers become more successful as a result of our own growth, but I'll save it to say simply that our wholesale partners have more successful small businesses as a result of what you see in our own retail environments. 

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