Here's how Jeff Gauger, owner of Beans 'N Cream in Sun Prairie, WI, replaced their coffee supplier and created a fully-branded coffee experience with a Bellwether Roaster.
Background: Beans ‘N Cream was ready to own the complete coffee experience.
Jeff Gauger and his coffeehouse, Beans ‘N Cream, have been community cornerstones in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin for over 15 years with three locations in the Madison suburb. Jeff had always purchased wholesale coffee from another roaster, and he was ready to stop outsourcing that part of the customer experience.
“We were selling another roaster’s coffee, but we knew there was a lot of value to having our own brand. I wanted to own the whole experience of our coffee that our customers had come to know.”
Solution: A zero-emissions, plug-and-play coffee roaster that could jump-start Jeff’s new line of self-roasted coffees.
When Jeff began exploring the Bellwether Roaster as a way to roast under his own brand name, he knew it was a strong fit for his vision moving forward:
- Vertical ownership of the customer experience, not just serving the coffee
- Getting started without huge warehouse or training expenses
- Financial and quality independence from wholesale coffee suppliers
“One of our shops is located beneath two or three floors of apartments. It would have been a nightmare to get venting in there. Part of the appeal of the Bellwether was that we could essentially put a plug-and-play piece of equipment into an existing location without the build-out expense.”
The Bellwether Roaster for Beans ‘N Cream arrived one day before Wisconsin shut down due to COVID-19. Jeff and his store leader and roaster, Megan, didn’t waste any time getting started, despite Megan’s hesitations about being ready for such a big responsibility.
“I was hesitant because I didn’t really think that I could be trusted to roast all the coffee for the shops, but it’s actually a really easy thing to do. Starting up was really, really easy.”
Results: Beans ‘N Cream raised profit margins, boosted retail sales, and increased coffee quality overnight.
While Jeff waited for his Bellwether Roaster to ship, he collaborated with Bellwether’s team of experts to ensure the transition to roasting in-house would be smooth for his team and customers.
“Bellwether looked at their coffee inventory, tasted our coffees, and made suggestions on how to recreate our existing blends. We’ve had a blend called Prairie Dirt for around 15+ years, so it has a lot of loyal followers. Bellwether helped us pick coffees to get close to that blend’s original flavor. It actually tastes better now.”
Jeff and his team were immediately roasting at full-speed, thanks to the roast profiles crafted by experts that came with the green coffee Jeff purchased from the Bellwether Marketplace.
“Knowing the machine was going to come preloaded with roast profiles for our coffees was a huge benefit. It allowed us to have the machine delivered, plugged in, and then we were roasting.”
The built-in profiles frequently meet Jeff’s quality standards without the need for any customization, but the Beans ‘N Cream team can confidently tweak the profiles as necessary, allowing them to always have full control.
“I find it’s very easy and intuitive to set the roast profiles. Duplicating or creating new profiles—it’s all user-friendly. Out of the box, it was producing better espresso than what we got from our other roaster.”
Now that he can more predictably control their coffee costs across three locations, Jeff is seeing significant financial benefits for the long-term.
“We’re experiencing really nice margins using the Bellwether, which was part of our consideration in the first place. The more you use it, the more profitable it can be. The amount of coffee we’re roasting each week is increasing, and retail sales have been really great. I think we were going through a couple hundred pounds of coffee per week at my small shop. Now we’re selling about a thousand pounds per month.”
Most importantly, Jeff is achieving his long-term goal of completely owning the coffee experience. He’s proud to roast coffee he believes in, and is thrilled to share it with his customers.
“My staff and I are more involved now with coffee selection than we were when we were buying from another roaster, which is big for us—really being able to own the brand and tell the coffee’s story.”
Beans 'N Cream, Sun Prairie, WI.