After all the craziness for Mad Priest in 2020, we said that 2021 was going to be the year of stability. And it was. But not really in the ways we originally thought. Stability can be an illusion that you can never quite find, a mirage in the desert. Especially as a small business that likes to get creative and constantly dream big, solve problems, and see change.
In the midst of celebrating 5 years of Mad Priest, expanding our retail offerings and growing e-commerce, we truly regained our foundation as a brand, though. So 2021 was more of the year of our "confirmation" so to speak...
“To curious people who are sick of the bland, corporate, heretical coffee experience, Mad Priest Coffee Roasters is the unconventional, creative, sacred coffee choice. While we may be irreverent, we always take our coffee and our mission seriously. Because we are mad about injustice, especially societal inequality...and bad coffee.”
We learned that the core of stability means being unified as a team, ruthless in “trimming the fat” so to speak, focusing on what matters, and implementing systems that make us as effective and productive as we can possibly be. It was a year of immense growth internally, so that we can continue to grow outwardly. And, in true Mad Priest form, we did have a lot of fun along the way.
In February we celebrated Black History Month by getting our customers involved with stories! For the whole month, we wrote the name of an important person from Black history on every coffee cup sleeve. Customers were encouraged to do a little research on these folks, tag us, and share what they learned about their incredible stories! Check our instagram highlight #BHM for some of the fun.
March brought new & extended hours at our Broad St location, thanks to the leadership of our amazing retail manager, Adam! And best of all, the whole inside of the shop got a facelift with some much needed renovations as well as some outdoor seating.
For those who don't know...Broad St is where the Mad Priest story began in 2016. Those cozy 300 sq. ft. used to hold our massive roaster, production area, espresso bar, and retail coffee shelves. (Yeah, it was cozy all right.) We love all the space & fun & games (literally) & drive thru at our new state-of-the-art roastery & training lab at 3399 Wilcox Blvd. But Broad St will always be our first love. And apparently it's a lot of yours, too.
April marked the official launch of The Way, our exclusive Mad Priest subscription club. Members of The Way get freshly roasted specialty coffee delivered to their doorstep by the coffee angels themselves. They also get up to 17% off retail price on our coffees, private, curated coffee content just for "The Way" members, a seasonal #GetMad gift bag, and more. (If that sounds good to you, get all the info here.)
In April we also participated in Amal Yemen, an online event with attendees from around the world to inspire hope through coffee. Organized by Qima Coffee and Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Amal Yemen (literally “Hope for Yemen”), was the beginning of a movement designed to illuminate Yemeni coffee history, culture, and arts while raising funds for humanitarian relief efforts. (You can view all of the info and check out the Yemen talent portal with amazing chefs, musicians, artists and more here.)
In May WE WON the News 12 Now (WDEF) Viewer's Choice Awards: Best in Local Coffee in the Chattanooga and N. Georgia areas! Man. What a ride it's been. We are so thankful for the support of Chattanooga over the last 5 years, and getting this award was a huge honor.
Ok so June...well we did a James Hoffman parody video called “Jimmy Hoff” that went viral on YouTube with over 92K views, no big deal. Watch it here! (Our YouTube channel did not actually get the attention we were hoping to give it last year haha.) That was definitely unexpected. And fun. Also, James Hoffman had tried our Yemenia coffee as part of the virtual coffee tasting of the Amal Yemen event. And he apparently liked it, so yeah that was cool too.
July was the 5 year anniversary of Mad Priest! We had some fun with a photo contest, new coffees, and such. Five years ago?! It's crazy how time flies! (Take a walk down memory lane with us in this blog post.) Though we officially registered the LLC in 2015 and Michael was roasting coffee in his basement, we count July 2016 as our birthday because that’s when our vision came to life in a HUGE way, thanks to the support of our community and the success of our Kickstarter campaign.
Then in October we launched "The Confirmation of Mad Priest" with a new website, new merch, menus & more! We called it our “confirmation” because we felt that we were growing up and finding ourselves as a brand. We had been through that "dark night of the soul" and were ready to shine with a fun, fresh new look to our brand with this marketing campaign. As we said in the launch, "Just be warned, there will be lots of good coffee, and lots of fun. Because, life is too short for shit coffee…and taking ourselves too seriously."
While we went "all in" on the Mad Priest brand creatively speaking, we are committed as always to staying true to our core values of excellence, curiosity, and inclusivity, of course.
November hit with a bang because Mad Priest was named a Good Food Awards finalist! Our Yemenia Bait Alal Special Reserve Coffee met all of the responsible production criteria, in addition to being a top scorer in the August Blind Tasting amongst a pool of almost 2,000 entries. Also, in November we were nominated for TSBDC's "Rising Star" award.
Here's to 2021, the year of our confirmation, and all that 2022 will bring! We can't wait to share all that we have planned.