Our Story

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.

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.

And as a company, we are striving to do just that.

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. #GetMad 

Craft Excellent Coffee

We source the highest quality coffee beans through the best specialty importers (Caravela, Keffa, Olam), from some of the most responsible farms around the world. And we roast our unique coffees from South America, Africa, and Asia to bring out the best characteristics of each bean. Every part of the process from the farmer to the roaster is crucial to an excellent cup of coffee. And good coffee ultimately begins with coffee farmers paid a fair wage and empowered to learn sustainable farming techniques.

Our combined experience in the coffee industry, Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) roasting and buying certifications, and multiple coffee awards speak for themselves. Mad Priest was “Runner-Up in TN” in Food & Wine's “Best Coffee in Every State” (2017), and earned two Golden Bean medals (2019). Plus, our roastery team is constantly involved in conventions, classes, and competitions in the national/international coffee industry.

Educate the Curious

We are curious. We are endlessly curious about coffee & culture. And sometimes our curiosity makes us a little crazy. Curious about coffee & culture. A little crazy. And creative. Always pushing the edges of creativity as we educate. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to follow along!

It’s crucial that you know where your coffee comes from, how it’s roasted, and what you need to brew the best cup possible. The best quality coffee should be accessible and approachable to all, from soccer moms to business professionals to hipsters to grandparents from every race & culture. 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. Interestingly enough, many of the coffee growing regions of the world are also places of past or present conflict and displacement. 

Champion the Displaced

From the beginning, our focus has been to run a sustainable, for-profit business with a triple bottom line that included social and environmental goals alongside the economic one. We started out to “champion the displaced” by partnering with Bridge Refugee Services to hire refugees resettled here in Chattanooga. (We’ve employed five since the beginning of Mad Priest, and developed training in English, customer service, and other hard and soft skills.) But displacement doesn't just happen in other countries, it's in our own city.

That's why we work alongside our non-profit & community partners on larger issues of social justice, equity, and inclusion, and we are very specific about our hiring & promotion process to be as inclusive and equitable as possible. In 2020, we launched our employee ownership program so our staff have access to equity shares after only two years of employment.

We also cultivate culture and celebrate diversity in Chattanooga on a broader scale through events and pop-ups with other local entrepreneurs. 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. 

Say hi to the mad ones. 

Meet the folks that make your holy elixir a reality. Can I get an amen?

Cherita Rice

Matriarch of Marketing

Michael Rice

High Priest

Tarig Idris

Bishop of Broad St

Vinnie Big Shark

Vicar of Videos & Media

Q Bosilini

Deacon of Production

Ben Hodge

Deacon of Coffee Roasting

Adam Cintron

Apostle of Operations

Barbie Ogg

Matriarch of Wilcox Blvd