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Friday, Dec 1, 2023

Under new ownership, Vt. Coffee Company remains committed to community-minded goals

Since Vermont Coffee Company, supplier of coffee to the college, was sold to Maine-based specialty foods producer Stonewall Kitchen last spring, the company has been able to accelerate its growth while maintaining commitments to social causes and sustainability.

Mike Brown, general manager at Vermont Coffee Company, told The Campus that Stonewall Kitchen has acted as a partner in taking the company into its next phase by expanding its retail footprint.

Prior to joining Stonewall Kitchen, Vermont Coffee Company exclusively supplied whole bean coffee. Last year, Vermont Coffee Company was in the process of launching a new line of ground coffee, and Stonewall Kitchen embraced the idea and expedited the launch process.

“They’ve helped us make connections with retailers and tap into distribution channels, and [are] also helping us invest in manufacturing capabilities that help accelerate our original idea,” Brown said.

Vermont Coffee Company is now selling eight types of ground coffee.

Even while undergoing accelerated growth and expansion of products, Stonewall Kitchen is focused on maintaining Vermont Coffee Company’s commitment to social justice and the environment. Vermont Coffee Company’s products have remained 100% organic and are produced by roasteries that use 100% renewable gas, according to Brown.

Vermont Coffee Company has also maintained its social justice outreach promises through its Friend Philosophy, which has been a value-anchor that differentiates the brand from the larger company at Stonewall Kitchen. For example, Vermont Coffee Company continues to give back to the local community and farmers at coffee origins, focusing specifically on food security initiatives.

These commitments are further demonstrated through the introduction of products that give back to the community.

“We just launched a new blend of coffee called Friend Blend in 15 pound whole bean bags. The purpose of that is to really strengthen our commitment of giving back, so 5% of the sales of that product will continue our community support,” Brown said.

While making the transition to Stonewall Kitchen, the founder of Vermont Coffee Company, Paul Ralston, was hopeful that this partnership would benefit the Middlebury community. Brown emphasized that this is a priority to Stonewall Kitchen; however, they are still evaluating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local community, in hopes of figuring out the best support plan moving forward.

The Vermont Coffee Company café in downtown Middlebury has been closed since the pandemic with no plans for reopening soon. However, Ralston has taken it on as a personal project, and he is currently talking to Stonewall about this possibility.