Our year ended with a bang at our holiday party this year, celebrating all the hard work from the Mad Priest team in year SEVEN of business. 2023 was a rollercoaster, as all the years before. Not much changes on that front when it comes to small business life! As they say, the only thing constant in life is change.
(Just missing Tarig in this photo)
Here’s our top 5 highlights from the year…
We amped up our production big time this year. Joining our autobagger and sealer, our new roaster, The Ark, came in last year. But there were multiple challenges getting it up and running. Finally, she made her maiden voyage this Spring. Lainey got promoted this year to roaster, and has been working hard to keep us going on the roasting and wholesale front.
Lainey and Michael also got to be part of the Coffee Roasters Guild Retreat this year! We are always expanding our craft and are excited to share with you the best coffee possible. Learn more about Lainey’s experience here.
How many Walmarts were we in? 450 to be exact. We were overwhelmed with the sheer volume of the initial orders to get in all those stores. And we had to come together as a small team to creatively find a way to make this massive undertaking possible! We couldn’t have done it without the incredible team of folks that worked with us temporarily for a few months for the first initial push. Cheers to big steps and small steps alike.
Along with the big push of Walmart and production, we had to get back to the basics on the retail side of things. We closed the espresso bar at our roastery to make space for all the production. And unfortunately this year, the iconic Koch’s Bakery closed next door to our Broad St. location, which was super sad.
As with any small business challenges, you gotta just roll with it. We never anticipated going from three locations (in 2020) back to one. But that’s life, and that’s business. Our Broad St. location continues to be strong and steady and serves Chattanooga the best coffee, headed by Tarig and Abby!
Chattanooga, TN / Yemen, Middle East: Mad Priest Coffee Roasters, a small specialty coffee roasting company just made history on August 8, 2023 with the highest bid ever in a global Cup of Excellence coffee auction – at $444/pound for a lot of Yemeni coffee no less. Read more about our purchase here!
This was a story of David and Goliath – small business versus big business. Look at what a small business can actually do to help raise the level of excellence and opportunity in an industry like the global coffee industry!
And, it’s a big deal because of Yemen. Mad Priest wants to tell the story of Yemen, its history and the current humanitarian crisis. Not many people know this, but Yemen was the first and only ever free cultivator of coffee. And although Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, Yemen was the first place that commercialized coffee and created cafes, and we want to share this story. We did this through multiple immersive coffee tasting events in Atlanta and Chattanooga this fall that showcased this incredible Yemenia. Thanks to everyone who came out!
Last year we launched a new series called Axis Mundi, with two coffees from Yemen and El Salvador. We wanted a “top shelf” collection where we could offer nicer coffees at approachable prices. And we did just that.
With the relaunch we are even more committed to excellence – these exquisite coffees from around the world celebrate the places where heaven meets earth in our lives. The concepts of Axis Mundi rooted in many of the world's religions & cultures inspired us to create this new collection of top shelf coffees. Through these coffees, we turn our attention towards the broader view of the world, the glory of the divine in each of us, and the celebration of our humanity. Learn more about the Axis Mundi Collection here.
It’s been a year. Whew, has it ever been a year. If you’d like to hear more about the Mad Priest journey, tune in to the Co.Starters podcast to hear Michael and Cherita – the episode is called “Sometimes to win, you have to admit you’ve lost.” They talk about the bumps in the road of small business life, how a surprising messaging strategy saved the business when it looked like the end, and how even failure isn’t always the end of the journey.
Cheers to 2024!