...A walk down memory lane!
July 2021 marked FIVE YEARS since Mad Priest became official, thanks to the success of our Kickstarter campaign in 2016! A little backstory...Michael and Cherita Rice started Mad Priest Coffee Roasters in 2015 as a small-batch specialty coffee roasting company + a social enterprise with the mission to “Craft excellent coffee. Educate the curious. Champion the displaced.” We believe in producing the best coffee and equally believe in creating a business that educates and empowers.
Our name comes from the incredible novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas. In the story, Edmond Dantès was ready to give up and die in prison. Just then, the "Mad Priest" (or Abbe Faria) came on the scene and gave him a reason to hope again, along with the practical skills he needed to win at life. So the Mad Priest is a fictional character that embodies the fight for justice, freedom, and opportunity.
And as a company, we’ve been striving to do just that.
We always used to say....instead of wrongly-accused fictional Frenchmen, we champion real-life people displaced by war, disaster, tragedy, and gentrification. We are righteously indignant about racism & inequality in our country as well as the current unprecedented global refugee crisis. We're serious about educating our customers on the art and science of coffee, but we also strive to shed light on the humanitarian crises around the world, and in our own country.
You won’t hear us talk much about the Count of Monte Cristo these days, because well let’s be real...most of you haven’t read it. And also, our “Mad Priest” character is pretty good to stand in the strength of the brand alone nowadays. We’ve had a lot of fun with new branding & content this year, and we hope you enjoy the humor & creativity!
2015 - Mad Priest Coffee Roasters LLC officially registered in October. We were roasting very small batches on a Huky 500 in our basement and doing lots of experiments and coffee education.
2016 - Launched our first kickstarter campaign and successfully raised $36,472 to fund our first retail location, San Franciscan coffee roaster, and branding needs. Started roasting wholesale coffee for our first account. Opened our roastery and espresso bar at 1900 Broad St. to the public in December.
2017 - Purchased a larger Probat roaster to meet the growing demand for accessible, quality coffee in Chattanooga and surrounding areas. Steady growth of wholesale and retail. Hosted immersive cultural events and pop-ups under “Mad Priest Events” such as An Evening in India, An Evening in Iraq, and An Evening in Venezuela. Soon after opening our roastery in 2016, we started hosting immersive cultural events that enabled folks to experience the world and its beautiful tapestry of food, culture, and tradition right in their own backyard.
2018 - Started a sister company, The Mad Priest Coffee & Cocktails LLC, and hosted another kickstarter campaign this time successfully raising $43,466 that went towards the build-out, branding, and equipment for this new venture. Opened our gorgeous old-world-inspired all day cafe & bar (in downtown Chattanooga on Cherry St) with a massive three-day party for All Hallowtide (Oct 31-Nov 2).
2019 - Moved our roastery to a larger facility at 3399 Wilcox Blvd in the spring. Continued the Mad Priest tradition of hosting cultural events and pop-ups, this time at our own space including An Evening in Scotland, An Evening in Argentina, and An Evening in Ethiopia.
2020 - Travelled to origin in Guatemala in January. Opened drive-thru service at our roastery in May. Permanently closed our downtown cafe & bar on Cherry St due to Covid in the summer. Grew our online sales and continued to focus on building our brand into a company with global coffee connections through the purchase of the newly-discovered (and very expensive) Yemenia coffee.
2021 - Focused our attention on our two retail locations, streamlining, & systems, as well as our branding, creative content, and ecommerce platform. Celebrated our “official” 5 years of Mad Priest, at the 5-year anniversary of our first kickstarter. “Re-launch” of the Mad Priest brand with new branding, marketing & a good dose of humor & creativity.
The calm before the next creative storm? Maybe. One thing is for sure, we don’t sit around doing nothing over here. Time will tell what the future holds for the ambitious & passionate Mad Priest team!