Look out for the new issue of Crain’s New York Business for this profile on BRC’s Jim Munson:
Jim Munson had spent a decade in sales, operations and management at Brooklyn Brewery as that company revived interest in making and drinking locally produced beer—leading a national trend. But Munson’s own lifestyle had changed. After the birth of his first daughter 18 years ago, he no longer wanted to keep beer-drinker’s hours. “I went to sleep with a beer in my hand and woke up to the smell of coffee,” he said. Munson saw an opportunity in the coffee market. “Coffee is unregulated, and people drink more of it” than beer, he said. He left the brewery in 2001 to learn the coffee business, taking a position at Dallis Bros. Coffee, a third-generation coffee roaster in Queens
His timing was excellent. Gourmet roasters from the West Coast and Chicago had begun to send their specialty beans to coffee shops in New York, but no similar roaster had percolated yet in the city. at was a problem for local coffee lovers. “Roasted coffee doesn’t travel well; it hates to y, and it hates time,” said Ken Nye, founder of pioneer Ninth Street Espresso. In 2008, a year after Dallis sold its business to a Brazilian firm, Munson was ready to start the Brooklyn Roasting Co. He found his niche at the intersection of Fair Trade–certified and connoisseur-quality beans. Munson had traveled in Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Sumatra and other impoverished coffee-producing locales. “I wanted to do my part as someone in a consuming country to help those farmers out,” he said.
He bought a $200,000 Kestrel coffee-roasting machine and brought on a managing partner, Michael Pollack. The plan was to roast high-end beans with a sustainable pedigree in Dumbo and sell them wholesale. But after an early gig selling coffee on the East River Ferry, the partners soon realized they could build a retail business too. They now have nine stores—eight in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan—and 230 wholesale customers including WNYC and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. “Coffee supports the life of the mind,” Munson said.
Last year the company moved its headquarters to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, building out 19,000 square feet with an automated roaster and room for classes and cupping demonstrations. Munson said he expanded because he believes he can build a significant business in New York and because it makes sense to roast coffee locally. “Starting a coffee company in your own city is good,” he said.
Read the complete article here.