The secret to Huckleberry Roasters' humble success

Colorado roaster makes coffee a career

Heart, more than one made of foam, completes each cup of coffee from this Colorado company.

Huckleberry Roasters started humbly enough with a couple friends in a garage tinkering with something new. Near constant years later, the company greatly expanded its wholesale operations, growing to employ nearly 20 people.

As founders, Koan Goedman and Mark Mann slowly scaled up from the backyard to a small room in a shared space on Larimer Street, and later to a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in the Sunnyside neighborhood with a production roasting operation south of the city center. Dedicated to tasty coffee, the team worked hard to model sustainable practices from the retail facilities that are 100 percent wind powered to composting, recycling and sourcing responsibly farmed coffee.

It was clear in the early days that the success of the coffee didn’t purely rely on how it was roasted. but how it was served and by whom. Huckleberry’s employees, or the Hucklefam, are treated as an extension of the company’s overarching philosophy on sustainability. That starts by paying everyone well, so the staff can keep up with the demands of living in our rapidly growing city.

This summer, the coffee company will offer employees health care benefits and access to a gym membership, following the implemented a bike-to-work rewards system to incentivize people staying active while reducing traffic, last summer. Believing that coffee is a career, Huckleberry encourages employees to grow as professionals through development opportunities like industry events, internal and external trainings, certification and larger social gatherings. Employee retention has increased to 10 employees staying on for more than a year on average, challenging the traditional view of coffee house employment as temporary. The team has also been able to raise the median hourly rate to above $12/hour for the entire staff.

Huckleberry’s small fleet of millennial workers is central to its founding story, by striving to find new and exciting ways to foster engagement and strengthen growth. If someone sees a gap in the systems, or a role that needs to be filled, they’re encouraged to approach the founders with their spin on problem solving. By supporting employees to take ownership of the processes, Huckleberry’s service culture is strengthened and the staff contributes to the company’s bigger picture. The company encourages adventure, getting outside and exploring everything that Colorado has to offer, because healthy and happy employees will stay longer and take pride in their roles.

The Huckleberry shop on Pecos has become a hub for employees and regulars to engage in the Denver community as well as a beacon for out-of-town coffee and adventure tourists. At the end of 2016, the team converted the former roasting room into a Coffee Workshop to offer employees and customers in-depth coffee education experiences. Now, the space is used for pop-up dinners, concerts headlined by local bands and meet-ups for artists, makers and more. Coffee is better when enjoyed with others and Huckleberry is proud that to create a space for staff and customers to spend time together, cultivating community

Categories: Company Perspectives