Fire Department Coffee stands out from the rest, plain and simple. Selfishly, we'd love to say it's because of their cool bags, but they've built their brand from top to bottom (especially their Instagram account) in Rockford, IL, and it's pretty impressive. We talked to Fire Department Coffee Founder Luke Schneider about branding, 5lb. bags, “keeping it kosher,” and more. Here's what he had to say:
First of all, as a veteran-owned company, thank you for your service! Tell us a bit about the background of FDC?
Fire Department started in 2016 as a direct-to-consumer and e-commerce company. After a few expansions (they started in a strip mall), we began recruiting firefighters -because that's the community we are close to – and now half of our team is either active or retired firefighters or first responders. Today we also have a charitable foundation that supports sick or injured firefighters and first responders. When we launched FDC, it was our mission to not only make great coffee but to give back and support local firefighters. We are focused on building a community and our brand. A big part of that is social media and engagement.
How did you connect with Roastar?
We started working with Roastar pretty early on. As our inventory was growing and our product line was growing, we needed a way to stand out more. I saw some bags printed by you guys and thought, "Those are nice-looking' bags!" and we loved the flexibility we could have with digital printing.
And this flexibility helps with a fast-growing company like Fire Department Coffee?
Exactly. Because we're growing so fast, we've got stuff we need to add to the packaging. Recently we just got kosher certified, and if we want to add that to the bags digitally, it's a lot easier than spending thousands of dollars on plates, getting them from overseas, and taking a lot longer than we need.
So having bags printed in this country sounds like a benefit, too?
Absolutely. Having the ability to print the coffee bags here in the U.S., with shorter lead times and artwork flexibility, we love working with Roastar. There are constantly things changing where we want to switch up our packaging or give it a new look, so it's just made a lot of sense for our brand to work with Roastar. We're a fast-moving company so we need a bag company that can move fast with us.
Tell us about your 5lb. coffee bags and why you use Roastar?
We had another bag company, and we were doing hot stamping on our 5lb. bags, and we had to be on top of what we received because a lot of times, there were defects on the bags, and we wouldn't receive the quantity we had ordered. In addition, we had these awesome digitally printed 12 oz. bags, and flexibility with our bag design, but the 5lb bags weren't matching those. They were just kind of plain with the hot stamp. So when we switched to Roastar, we got great-looking bags with all the flexibility, and we could add more SKUs with the 5lb. bags and we noticed an increase in sales from just the design itself.
Thanks for hanging with us, Luke! We love seeing those 2lb. and 5lb. Fire Department Coffee bags out there, and a big-time thank you for your service from Roastar to all of the veterans, firefighters, and first responders at Fire Department Coffee!