A new bagged coffee subscription service in Kansas City began, as so many things do these days, with an advertisement on Craigslist. Nikki Goodson, a singer and keyboard player, met guitarist David Samuels more than two years ago when both responded to an advertisement for a new band in the works. They were half of the alternative rock band NowHere (pronounced Now Here), which broke up last fall.
“The business idea became our creative outlet,” Goodson says of life after NowHere. “Before it was music, now we’re trying to get something else going.”
The something else — The Coffee Dispatch — began as a simple problem in Goodson’s own kitchen.
“I went down to make coffee. And I was out of coffee. And that’s when I knew what I needed,” Goodson says. “I knew that some roasters do subscriptions, but I like variety. I didn’t necessarily want the same roast every week and I’m a fan of buying local.”
She already subscribed to grocery and produce delivery services, but now she wanted the same thing for her morning cup. Goodson, who works in customer support, had a background in marketing, while Samuels has a degree in business management. The two, who are dating, decided to use their complimentary skill sets and become business partners.
They approached six local roasters — the Broadway Roasting Company, City Market Coffeehouse Messenger Coffee Co., Paristi Artisan Coffee, The Roasterie, and Thou Mayest — and set up a site earlier this month to sell one-time gift boxes and coffee subscriptions. They sold their first box this past Saturday.
“We wanted to make it easy for people to try out the local coffee experience,” Goodson says.
The Coffee Dispatch sells boxes in three sizes that range from 19.75 ounces ($35) to 36 ounces ($60) to 76 ounces ($100). Each box contains bagged coffee from Kansas City roasters. It’s whole bean coffee, with the exception of the sample bags from The Roasterie and Parisi in the small box, which are only available ground.
Coffee subscriptions, (Bean Box, Tonx (acquired by Blue Bottle last April), Craft Coffee, to name a few) have found success in other cities. But Goodson is quick to point out the difference between The Coffee Dispatch and subscriptions like the Seattle-based Bean Box that purchase and repackage beans.
“We wanted to help people get to meet and know the roasters. That’s why we keep the coffee in the roaster’s packaging,” Goodson says. “If you just want their coffee, you’ll have to buy it from the roaster.”
The service currently lets the roasters pick what to include in a gift box, in an effort to feature seasonal coffee and use their expertise. As it’s structured, orders received by 10 a.m. Monday can be shipped as soon as that Thursday (although Goodson is toying with shifting that to Wednesday).
“We only make our order after we receive your order, so it can hopefully be as fresh as can be,” Goodson says.
The duo are looking to grow the business to the point where Samuels can work on The Coffee Dispatch full-time. As part of that effort, they envision adding additional local roasters and perhaps a grinder or coffee mug to the subscription boxes.
“I think what’s great about us is that we’re here in Kansas City and we have great people that live and work around us,” Goodson says. “We should support each other. Still, if someone from Seattle wants a box, I’m not going to say, ‘No.'”[Images via The Coffee Dispatch]