Oy! So much discussion over coffee beans! Since last week, there’s been such a hubbub – particularly here in Portland – over the recent moves by local coffee company, Stumptown Coffee. In a post oddly self-serving and notably void any concrete evidence, a rumor delivered by Esquire’s Todd Carmichael set the discussion ablaze, with folks speculating up and down the social media world on whether or not the beloved coffee brand had been sold to a larger entity. As various media outlets scrambled to confirm or deny, Portland’s Willamette Week had the first official report, with Stumptown’s Director of Operations, Matt Lounsbury, assuring fans that owner Duane Sorenson was still at the reins and that the widespread speculation was really the result of a large cash infusion.
“Duane has a friend who’s invested some money into Stumptown to help us grow—to open up a couple of cafes, maybe a market,” Lounsbury said. “But he’s still very much in charge of the company. This is a time when banks aren’t giving a lot of people money and we actually reached a point where the banks wouldn’t give Stumptown any more money.”
According to the Oregonian, with loyal drinkers aghast at the thought of Stumptown “selling out”, at least a handful of roasters were confident that the rumored move would have a positive outcome for other independent coffee companies.
“We can all be proud of Stumptown’s growth and expansion and what that’s done for the industry,” said Matt Milletto, co-owner of Water Avenue Coffee, a micro-roaster based in Southeast Portland, and vice president of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup, a business consulting firm to the specialty coffee industry.
“Any kind of growth like that will benefit them on the national level,” Milletto said. “A lot of companies grow, I just think that the reaction in Portland will be a little different… Here, everyone loves their local brand.”
With a few folks still holding out hope, Willamette Week confirmed via “a coffee industry executive” this week that Stumptown had, indeed, sold 90% of their assets to New York’s TSG Consumer Partners, an investment firm that specializes in specialty drinks, including Glaceau Vitamin Water and Voss Water. In the article, Esquire‘s Carmichael was quoted as saying that the funding will go towards “a big expansion” and may include the merging of Stumptown with additional small coffee brands.
The move will likely put additional emphasis on growing the recently released Stumptown Stubbies as well. Batches of the bottled cold-brew coffee, now distributed at Portland area locations, are scheduled to arrive at the company’s New York stores next month.
ADDITION 6/8/2011: Stumptown owner Duane Sorenson posted his thoughts on the developments this morning on the Stumptown website.
“At a time when it’s difficult to find the financing to grow, run and operate a quality driven and sustainable business, I am pleased to announce that Stumptown has found an investor to help us offer opportunities and take care of our employees, farmers and customers like we’ve never been able to do before.”
CORRECTION: I originally incorrectly referenced Matt Milletto’s quote as being from the Willamette Week. It is instead from the Oregonian.