Heartland Bank CEO Scott McComb and co-host Kailyn Buckley recently interviewed our Founder and President Greg Ubert for their Driving the CBUS podcast.
The team talked about Greg’s 30-year history in specialty coffee, his passion for entrepreneurship and his love of Columbus. They also touched on Crimson Cup’s focus on good and our drive to create a sustainable coffee future.
30 Years of Specialty Coffee and Entrepreneurship
“It started in 1991, and it’s still just super exciting for me to be in the business and to continue to innovate and do the things we’re doing,” Greg said.
30 years ago, Greg was a recent Harvard University graduate. Despite landing a lucrative corporate job in Chicago, he discovered he couldn’t fall in love with computer software.
Instead, specialty coffee and the lure of starting a small business swept him off his feet.
Starting Up in Columbus, Ohio
With its quality public schools and supportive business culture, Ohio’s capital seemed the perfect place to start a new venture and raise a family.
“Coffee – or great coffee – just wasn’t around,” Greg said. “I thought there’s no way Columbus won’t be a great city with cuisine, given all the things that Columbus offers.”
After moving back to his home city, Greg set up as a specialty coffee roaster, with a tiny roasting machine in a one-room office. He named his company Crimson Cup for the ripe red cherry of the coffee tree and Harvard’s official color, crimson.
Greg’s goal was to roast the best coffee anyone had tasted. And soon, coffee shops and restaurants were proud to serve Crimson Cup.
Discovering the 7 Steps to Coffee Shop Success
But, even with exceptional coffee, some customers struggled to make a profit.
“They didn’t know, in the coffee industry, what was going to make them money, what was going keep them around, what was going to keep them strong,” he recalled.
So, after studying coffee shop operations, Greg developed a coffee shop startup platform called 7 Steps to Success.
And in 2003, he put his experience into a book, Steps to Success: a Common-Sense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee.
This proven roadmap teaches entrepreneurs with little or no coffee experience how to run a profitable coffee shop based on a terrific location, exceptional coffee and other factors.
To date, over 300 entrepreneurs in 30 states have followed the 7 Steps to create thriving coffee shops.
Startup Consultants Deliver Exceptional Training
“Training is one thing we do really, really well at Crimson Cup,” Greg said. “We teach and train our customers how to be successful. And if they’re successful, we’re successful!”
Pursuing a Sustainable Coffee Future
Greg also talked about sustainable coffee farming.
Over a decade ago, Crimson Cup started investing in farmer relationships and farming communities.
We then developed our Friend2Farmer initiatives to make a meaningful impact in coffee-growing communities.
“We teach farmers to make better coffee, and then we can pay them more for it. Then they can invest in their farms and communities,” Greg said.
Crimson Cup also invests in community projects such as schools, water filtration buckets and building homes for coffee workers.
A Focus on Good Drives The Ripple Effect
Looking ahead, Greg says Crimson Cup has begun to emphasize a Focus on Good in branding and communications.
“I believe very strongly that people are good throughout the world.” Greg said. “If we can look at that and get others to look at that, too, that could quite possibly change things for the better. That’s how we landed on Focus on Good as a core message.”
“Each new local coffee shop or farmer relationship adds impact to The Ripple Effect, a focus on good that spreads from our actions to small businesses and communities around the globe,” he concluded.
To hear the full story of Crimson Cup’s history, our focus on good and work toward a sustainable future for coffee and the farmers who grow it, listen to the podcast.