What began as an admiration for coffee and a love for mankind became a passionate cause. Avid Coffee Co. has cut out all the middlemen by becoming their own distributers, roasters, and brewers, enabling them to empower coffee farmers from right here in the neighborhood.
Co-founder of Avid Coffee Co., Matthew McKenzie’s journey into the coffee business began more than a decade ago as a barista for Starbucks. While working there he had two mentors who he says were instrumental in the formation on how he thought about coffee as a beverage and in considering the farmer.
In December of 2010, after four years at Starbucks, McKenzie decided it was time to move on. “I left Starbucks with two things carrying over: a passion for coffee farmers and a passion for coffee itself,” he said. His next plan was buying a one-way ticket to Nicaragua where he would do mission work with low income families and orphans. Before that step was taken, Jeff George, now also co-founder of Avid, invited McKenzie to spend six months in China with him, changing McKenzie’s plans and foreseeable future.
Beginning his journey to China in July of 2011, McKenzie had the opportunity to work closely with farmers, hear their stories, and learn first-hand their daily struggles.
“Hearing the story of these farmers in some of these countries, just their situations in general, I fell in love with them, and I knew that whatever I did in my life I wanted it to be in service to these farmers,” McKenzie said.
Six months sped by, and once in the U.S. again, McKenzie married and started a family, but farmers were never far from his mind. With a background and love for coffee, he started there.
He began looking around and talking to different people about starting a coffee truck or shop in the neighborhood, but everything fell through. Jeff George, who lived in China for seven years, returned to the states to live full time. McKenzie, knowing George still had a heart for farmers, approached him with the idea of forming a business that would combine their love for farmers and McKenzie’s love for coffee. With coffee being the second highest traded commodity in the world behind oil, it’s no surprise massive industries control a bulk of the buying. These companies essentially pay pennies on the dollar for their coffee that by the time the farmers get paid they’re not making enough to sustain their farms.
“So a lot of times what [farmers] have to do, they’ll have to sell their farms to the government and they effectively become slaves to the government,” McKenzie said, overcome with emotion.
McKenzie is working with the mindset of responsibility toward the farmer by working directly with them and cutting out the middleman. He pays four to seven times more for fair market value for his green (unroasted) coffee beans to make sure they’re able to give back to the farmers that are harvesting and growing the coffee. Intentionally working with farmers who have a mindset of caring for their own community, who are being responsible with how they manage their farm, and by paying them a fair wage the farmers are able to reinvest in their own communities.
The purpose of Avid Coffee Co. isn’t to just pump money into America, but to have these coffee farmers who genuinely care about their own communities give back. “It’s not us who’s the superhero of the country it’s the farmers themselves,” McKenzie said.
Though co-founder George had no ties to coffee, the more he learned about what they could do to help the coffee farmers, the more excited he became about the potential of Avid Coffee Co. Discussion began about opening their own shop and working with other distributers that shared their passion for caring for the farmer, soon became the idea of becoming their own distributors to cut the middleman out.
“Work our way into being that line from the farmers, to coffee roasters, to coffee shop. That’s how avid was born. It started as a coffee roasting company,” McKenzie said.
Three years before they acquired the coffee truck, McKenzie began roasting coffee beans. He held tastings with local coffee shops and his coffee was in both Slowpokes and A 2nd Cup. In September 2016, the Avid Coffee Co. truck was acquired. On the truck he sells his roasted coffee beans, beans that travel from Honduras from a family who uses the funds from their coffee sales to run an orphanage.
Customers can grab a freshly brewed coffee, latte, chai tea, smoothie, or this week’s drink of the week: the Buttery HazelMallow Latte or the HazelMallow Macchiato. An Avid Coffee Co. regular, Randy Gardner, who comes to the truck two to three times a week because, “he’s local, independent, and I’ve known him before he had his truck, so I kind of started when he was just starting to roast,” he said.
Since December, the truck has been parked out in front of Mytiburger, which Gardner also commented on, saying, “It’s convenient and I love the fact that Shawn and Mytiburger are working with Avid coffee, kind of teaming up their local independence.”
As for future plans, McKenzie dreams of having a brick and mortar and eventually branching into distribution all while maintaining a responsible, impactful company.
For now, you can catch the truck outside of Mytiburger from 7a.m.—noon, and in front of Garden Oaks Baptist Church from 3 – 5:30p.m. for an afternoon pick-me-up. The truck is also available for events and catering. Find them online at avidcoffeeco.com.