Blue Heron Coffee is one fun and funky company, trying to change the world one bean at a time. We had the pleasure to talk with Blue Heron Coffee owner Jay Hudson about his brewing background, tin cans, memories from a vessel, and more. Here is what he had to say:
Can you tell me a little bit about Blue Heron Coffee?
“Sure thing, while I was managing the brewery up the street, my friends opened Blue Heron Coffee and I came here 2-3 times a day just for coffee. They were a roastery at the time as well, and I saw a lot of similarities in the brewing industry and the roasting business even in the beginning. It was a natural reason for us to become friends and explore those relationships and similarities.
They had the shop for seven and a half years before they sold it to us. We picked it up during the pandemic and opened in April 2020, and even though we are a funky little coffee shop, we still are a manufacturing facility. We were afforded the luxury of still being able to produce coffee and dry goods, as the legal term was, so we were able to kind of start there and it was great. There weren’t a lot of businesses out there that could say, it is not going to get any worse than this. Like everything that we do is uphill, and it'll never get as weird as that.”
So, your brewing background really propelled you into taking over Blue Heron Coffee?
“Yes. I was looking to change hours, my kids were getting older, and I remember a night that I came home, and my wife was watching a movie and was like, where are the kids? She said they were at sleepovers. I was like, I want to enjoy a little quiet time and watch a movie that’s rated R, I would love to do that. So, how do I do that, how do I change my hours and it snapped. I spent the first 25 years of my life putting people to bed bartending, and now I am going to spend the next 25 years waking them up.”
When did Roastar enter your journey with this “waking people up” approach?
“I was playing around on Roastar’s website and having fun with the die lines, creating bags. Having those tools available really allowed me to have fun with the process without any pressure. We are always trying to figure out what our next move will be and I called to look for bags because, with the supply chain, it always seems to be the generic things that are out of stock, and it seemed like a natural move to spend a little bit more to have something made for us directly, but knowing we will have our product when we need it.”
So, guaranteeing a product will be in your hands when you need it played a part in working with Roastar?
“Yeah, instead of spot buying and I have someone who knows what I need.”
Your rep Scott knew what you were interested in and introduced you to custom printed tin cans?
“I am always looking for reusable containers and not all products are actually recyclable.”
And so tin cans entered the picture, did you know you were the first custom printed can order with Roastar?
“We had a suspicion and then Scott told me, and then Ashley was kind enough to congratulate me as well.”
Tell us about your tin can and that journey?
“The cans are great! Another reason I took the can on and a no brainer for me. I was also working with another company, and I have their machine to can cold brew, so from the machinery perspective, it was a no brainer. I had no idea that this tin can was even a thing; thank you to Scott for bringing it up. The cans have been great, and they are starting to move. I held back a little bit and released 20 cans for a test market. I wanted to know if the foil was easy to rip off, do my customers bring them back, and am I really doing this or am I going to market with this as a schtick. I’ll tell you; the locals absolutely love them as reusable containers. They come back and think they are the coolest thing they have ever seen. They are proud to put it out. It’s contemporary but it’s vintage looking, so it kind of goes with a little bit of everything in people’s kitchen. I have had no negative feedback about the vessel. We are really excited and developing a program around it now that we are out of our beta testing.”
You will actually sell people coffee in the cans, and they can bring it back to you to have it refilled? What an awesome concept!
“Yeah, and that’s the brewer in me. Everyone loved having a growler and there are these programs that I already developed that I can just go, ahh instead of beer, it’s coffee.”
We love the concept, anything else to share about the cans or yourself?
“It's not even thinking that it is just for coffee, we are doing this for an ecofriendly cause but making it flashy. But we’ve also put T-shirts and gift cards in them for charity, all while being a reusable container. It is not just for coffee but it’s a really awesome vessel to get the word out that there are so many different uses for it. The versatility in the right mind can take this anywhere. It's cross-generational. The older generation remembers buying coffee like that, the younger generation remembers cleaning out of grandpa’s garage and finding nuts and bolts or grandma's button collection. Everyone has had something like this in their life and I have yet to meet a bad memory, so to be a part of stirring up good memories, just in a vessel, in a vessel! I think that is pretty cool.”