Some of the biggest names in coffee have their origins in the Pacific Northwest. Graham Hnedak, CEO of Bad Boys Coffee, shares the unique and inspirational origin story for the brand.
What inspired the business?
We live in the Pacific Northwest. Coffee is a favorite of all the guys in our company. We used to go camping and make coffee over the campfire when we’d get up in the morning. And we took photos of our mornings cooking over the fire – complete with a vintage coffee pot that just managed to make it into every picture.
One of my clients said, you know, you guys really should be in the coffee business – and a campfire inspired roast would be perfect.
What makes the business unique?
We are unique because everyone in our company is a former drug user who did time in prison. We had quite a few obstacles to overcome – the biggest being each of our pasts.
The cool thing about coffee is it is a social business. So, we took to the road to go out and meet the public, to show them that aside from a great product, we have some real life stories to share – and hopefully those stories will inspire others.
We’ve done 16 event days in just over thirteen weeks and the public has been great. We’ve received so many letters from people telling us that we give their sons and daughters hope – and we seem to be giving family members hope, as well. Our message is that people can and do change. And you can be as respected for making positive life changes.
It’s a concept that works.
The company’s unique background attracted attention.
We were invited to be part of a TV Show called Up Late NW. We figured we’d go and serve coffee one night and hang out. We’re now the official coffee of the show and we’re on TV every Saturday night in three states. It’s pretty cool to see hardworking guys become the faces and the brand ambassadors for our company.
The unique background of the company also provided its biggest challenge.
No one wanted to go back to a life of drug use. We had to get rid of old friends and family who didn’t care if we used drugs or who didn’t support us. To tackle that down time, we went camping. We turned our camping expeditions into photoshoots – and we set out to “Celebrate the Very Best of the Pacific Northwest.”
As we camped and did these shoots, we promoted our coffee and our love of the outdoors helped shape everything from our packaging to the design of our coffee bar. The public saw that we were real guys. We bonded and got to know each other. When you camp out for a few days, you get a real sense of the people you’re with. Our bond shaped our passion – and we carried our passion to the people.
And they got it. And they accepted us.
When we got to an event, everything has to be transported. The containers work and work well. But we wanted that full-on brand experience so we started engraving things with our logo. Now our storage containers we so popular, people offered to buy them at events. Everyone wanted to take home a canister with the Bad Boys Logo on it.
We wish Bad Boys Coffee continued success. They have a great story, great brand and a great mission. For being selected as the Cambro Foodservice Business of the Week, Graham will receive a storage prize pack.
Links to Bad Boys Coffee
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