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Meet Branden Marty of Veteran Roasters Cup O’ Joe Coffee

Today we’d like to introduce you to Branden Marty.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I spent 13 years in the Navy as a pilot and Admiral’s Aide and program manager; deploying and traveling all over the world. The last two years were my most influential as I spent time running the Navy’s Wounded Warrior Program; mostly supporting service members who no longer could remain in service because a wound, injury and illness. Here I learned the challenges, and frequently hardship, so many service members face integrating back to their communities – wounded, injured or perfectly healthy. I let the bid effort and initial planning phase of 2017 Warrior Games in Chicago.

Warrior Games is a Paralympic-style competition between wounded, injured and ill veterans/service members from all service branches and displays the challenges that so many of the participants have overcome and how much they are still able to do even with their limitation.

During that time was lucky to meet Mark Doyle, who started an apparel company called Rags of Honor focused on hiring and employing homeless and chronically unemployed veterans. I loved his and his wife (Kip) passion, focus and energy for their work in the veterans space, not spending a day in uniform themselves. I am very active and passionate about supporting my fellow veterans. I was fortunate during my time in service to lead so many great men and women and ensuring that they continue to have and lead a successful life after service is extremely important to me.

After Warrior Games, I came on board to help Mark at Rags and grow the company and continue to hire more veterans. Also, during that time they started a coffee company, Veteran Roasters Cup O’ Joe to hire even more homeless and chronically unemployed veterans in a separate vertical. We partnered with a local coffee roaster, Passion House Coffee Roasters, who loved our mission and was passionate about giving back. They are our partners and provide us with the knowledge and experience we lack in the coffee industry and help train/education our employees.

With being established only a year ago, we’ve made some great strides. Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group took us on as their exclusive coffee at the beginning of 2018. We are in all of there 53 (soon to be 57) locations nationally. We’ve also continued to grow locally within the Chicago corporate and restaurant market and can be found at all Pete’s Fresh Market Grocery stores. Most importantly, we have employed 4 veterans now and the more coffee we sell the more people we are able to hire.

We look forward to doubling that number in 6 months and expanding even more from there. The focus is providing opportunities to those veterans struggling many times through no fault of their own. Over 150,000 veterans will be homeless for at least one night this year and hundreds of thousands more are at risk of homelessness daily. We need to change this narrative and that is our goal at Veteran Roaster Cup O’ Joe. “They were on the ground for us. Buy some grounds for them.”

Product information:
We currently have two blends (medium and dark roast) as well as a decaf. We are also excited to bring a cold brew to market as the weather turns this spring/summer that we think people will love.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Lots of challenges. As someone that enjoys coffee, but no idea what it took to make a great coffee we had and did find an excellent partner in Josh Millman and Passion House Coffee Roasters. Every day I learn about the technical and business aspects of coffee and help my employees do the same.

Hiring homeless and chronically unemployed veterans is difficult and helping them be successful professionally and in life takes a different type of approach from an employer. Finding our niche in Chicago’s coffee landscape and getting our message out there has also been a challenge.

Veteran Roasters Cup O’ Joe Coffee – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are a coffee company who focuses on making quality, accessible coffee all while hiring homeless and chronically unemployed veterans and providing them with skills/training in the coffee industry, We currently have two blends (medium and dark roast) as well as a decaf. We are also excited to bring a cold brew to market as the weather turns this spring/summer that we think people will love.

As a company, we are known by our loyal customers as a coffee company that makes great coffee and also provides an opportunity and new lease on life for those that served our country. We were established only a year ago and we’ve made some great strides in that time.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
We define success by the number of men and women we can take off the streets and provide an employment opportunity. We see that one of the most influential phrases to people struggling are the words, “You’re Hired.”

Of course, we as a for-profit company need to stay financially stable, but we are always ready to hire that next veteran to give them an opportunity to change the course of their life.

Pricing:

  • Veteran Roasters Cup O’ Joe 12 oz. Whole Bean Coffee Bag (Regular) Medium – $11.99
  • Veteran Roasters Cup O’ Joe 12 oz. Whole Bean Coffee Bag (Decaf) Medium – $12.90
  • Veteran Roasters Night Ops 12 oz. Whole Bean Coffee Bag Dark – $12.99
  • Veteran Roasters Rn’R 12 oz. Cold Brew – $4.49

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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