Luna Gourmet rebuilds and restores after fire, COVID-19
In March, the Denver-based coffee roaster suffered a fire at the historic schoolhouse that serves as its roastery and cafe
As the state begins to reopen following coronavirus shutdowns, many businesses are beginning the process of restoring what they lost. But for the Denver-based coffee manufacturer, Luna Gourmet Coffee and Tea (which also owns Boyer’s Coffee), not only are they recovering from business disruptions due to COVID-19 closures, but they’re rebuilding after a fire took out their historic coffee roastery in North Denver.
The building, which was built in 1927 as a schoolhouse, has served as a cafe and roastery for Boyer’s since 1972. In 2015, brothers Douglass Barrow and Jason Barrow, the owners of Luna Gourmet Coffee & Tea, acquired Boyer’s Coffee, adding it to its family of brands which includes Boulder Organic Coffee, Luna Roasters and Boco Java. Since the acquisition, the Barrow brothers have roasted beans from all their brands from the historic schoolhouse. Following a fire that ravaged the building on March 31, the company has begun to rebuild.
“We’re in the process of planning our rebuild, and will call the schoolhouse – whose brick walls remain intact – home again,” says Douglass Barrow, co-owner and roastmaster, and Jason Barrow, co-owner and president. “The silver lining was the outpouring of support we received from the community, which not only stood together through a devastating fire, but also in the face of a pandemic, and allows us to stand taller and prouder than ever.”
Following the fire, the roastery is supported by two local Colorado roasters (who have requested not to be named). The roasters are allowing the Luna staff use of their facilities to roast and pack its coffee beans as the company restores the schoolhouse
Dealing with COVID-19
Amid rebuilding from the fire, the company also faced changes due to coronavirus. “Coffee is an agricultural product, so with the temporary closures of various ports throughout the world, we are seeing a slight impact on the types of coffee beans we’re able to source currently,” the Barrow brothers say. On the bright side, the company has seen an increase in sales as stay-at-home orders have turned more consumers into at-home brewers.
And as the impact of COVID-19 on their business has been minimal, the brothers have felt a sense of security in their tried-and-true business model.
“When we first started around 2005 [when the Barrow brothers bought Luna], we were focused on trying to build on our knowledge of how to run a successful business, while making a difference at the same time,” the Barrow brothers say. “In the years since, we’ve tried to continue to run nimbly, and to remain resilient. After COVID hit and then the fire, we have a testament that our business model works, so we continue moving forward with this philosophy in mind.”
A big year for Luna Gourmet
All these challenges come amid a busy couple of years for Luna Gourmet and the Barrow brothers.
In the last two years, the company landed a spot on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list; formed a partnership with Walmart to create Mash-Up coffee, which provides high-quality coffee and education surrounding how it’s farmed; landed an exclusive deal with Sam’s Club, selling the Club’s own blend of Mash-Up coffee; launched an online gourmet roast-to-coffee program at Walmart.com; and through The School that Coffee Built program, promoted social and economic sustainability in two coffee farming communities of Peru, by building schools which provide both education for children and workshops for adults.
Overall, the company has certainly learned a lot in recent years about rebuilding, growing, finding success and moving full-steam ahead. “As a company we operate on the belief that if you put good out into the world, good will come back to you,” the Barrow brothers say. “Know that it’s hard work to rebuild, especially in this time of uncertainty. But, if you find ways to focus on the positive, and continue to give back where you can, good will find you; this is also how you will succeed, and continue to grow.”
Luna Gourmet Coffee and Tea was on the 2020 ColoradoBiz Top Family-Owned businesses list.