Local coffee roasters gear up for summer store opening

For Burlington-area residents on the look-out for a new coffee spot, a new option is in the works for midsummer.

Co-founders Kevin Jordan and Daniel Krenzer will expand their previously online-based Alamance Kaffee Werks roasting company into a 1,250-square-foot store on South Church Street.

Converge Coffee Bar & Cafe will open in the second half of June or beginning of July, Krenzer said, between Southbound Sandwich Works and Mike’s Deli.

In addition to coffee, they will serve pastries, bagels and sandwiches. They are considering adding craft beer and wine, Krenzer said.

This step follows three retail partnerships and increased product offerings.

Business has boomed in the last year: What they used to sell in one week, they now sell in a day. In an average month, they sell 180–200 12- and 16-ounce bags of coffee, and 8–12 5-pound bags.

They use 12- or 16-ounce bags depending on the roast, both of which retail for $12.99 online. Krenzer estimated their profit margin is around the specialty coffee industry standard of 65–75 percent. He said their sales so far are more than double their expectations for 2017–2018.

They estimate approximately 20 percent of their sales come from their website, and 80 percent from retail locations or direct sales to longstanding customers who contact them when for refills.

Freshness

Alamance Kaffee Werks isn’t just a small business venture (or “side hustle,” as Jordan called it). Both men are passionate about the coffee experience. Visitors to their current workspace will find Jordan experimenting with roasting techniques while Krenzer launches into an abbreviated course on roasting processes.

“Typically if we can get somebody to taste our coffee, they understand why it’s good,” Jordan said.

“The freshness just can’t be matched, especially the next day or two when the bean is still breathing after roasting,” Krenzer said. “You can just pick up on the flavors so much more. And when you can get it into somebody’s hands when it’s still breathing, … it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is where it’s at.’”

Jordan and Krenzer said Alamance Kaffee Werks stands out from larger coffee roasters in the quality of the beans they use, consistency in roasting, and their company’s relationship with customers.

Exposure

Krenzer and Jordan currently sell coffee through the Company Shops Market in Burlington, and Graham-based Trackside Bottle Shop and Steve’s Garden Market & Butchery.

Mike Notchey, owner of Trackside Bottle Shop, approached them after finding their Instagram account. Within two weeks of offering Alamance Kaffee Werks’ products, he sold through about half his inventory. Notchey said when customers try it, they typically come back and buy one or two more bags.

Justin Long, owner and president of Steve’s Garden Market & Butchery, says they’ve received positive feedback since partnering with Alamance Kaffee Werks in February.

“We need to get a grinder,” Long said. “Some people buy it thinking it’s already ground, so that’s been the only negative feedback. So we’ll address that, get a grinder and keep going.”

Getting coffee into larger chain grocery stores is difficult because the company is still new, but because they’re local and small, they found other options in stores like Company Shops, Steve’s and Trackside.

“We looked at places that were open to, that carry a lot of local stuff and advertise themselves as a local retailer,” Jordan said. “The biggest one is the Company Shops. We walked in there and said, ‘Look, we’re roasters right down the street.’ Same with Steve’s. It fit their model of that local product.”

He said they jump at opportunities to introduce their products to potential customers, like setting up booths at the Company Shops’ events or tastings at Trackside.

Steve’s Garden Market & Butchery will open a restaurant in the space adjacent to its current location and will feature Alamance Kaffee Werks as its house coffee. Long said when they open a second store in Hillsborough, the coffee brand will go with them.

“Growth will be good for both of us,” Long said. “As far as working with them, they’ve been great. They came in when they presented themselves [as] very approachable, not pushy. I kind of admired them. They’re doing what we all kind of want to do and start a small business and grow and do it sustainably. They’re taking the right steps to become a successful small business.”

Notchey said Jordan’s and Krenzer’s plans for their own store will only reinforce their business relationship.

“I think there’s a general misperception about what competition is,” Notchey said. “I think that some businesses feel like they’re in competition with other businesses. But for us, with all the construction and everything happening in the area, in the Triad and Triangle in general, we feel like our position is that we want to, but we also have to, support and enable small business to be successful.”

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