Community Coffee isn’t resting on its laurels this year

Baton Rouge-based Community Coffee Company celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, but the company is not resting on its considerable legacy. Board Chairman and fourth-generation owner Matt Saurage, whose great grandfather founded the company, says it is looking to the future and will continue the slow, steady growth strategy that has characterized it for the past several years.

“We will never be the biggest coffee company in the U.S.,” Saurage said in a lunchtime address to the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. “But we will be the best.”

At 100, Community is the largest, family-owned retail brand of coffee in the U.S. It’s also one of the only companies in that category, and its competition comes increasingly from overseas and from the dominant U.S. player in the market—publicly traded Smucker’s, which owns the Folgers, Dunkin Donuts, and Café Bustelo coffee brands.

“We’re a small fish in a big pond,” Saurage said. “The competition is fierce.”

But the market is growing, which creates opportunities. Coffee sales in the U.S. top $74 billion a year and the industry has a $225 billion economic impact on the U.S. economy.

To capitalize on those opportunities, Community’s strategy for the short term is to saturate the markets that it’s already in—22 mostly southern and eastern states. Though the company plans to eventually expand into new markets, for now it wants to be in every restaurant, convenience store, hotel and supermarket where it already does business, Saurage said.

Additionally, the company is hoping to sign another major deal or two, like the 2014 contract it inked with Southwest Airlines to be the airline’s exclusive coffee. Community is also the only co-branded product Southwest uses.

“Our goal for 2019 is to secure a few more back channel customers like Southwest,” said Saurage, noting that the airline recently re-upped its deal with the company for several years.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated since its original publication to reflect that Matt Saurage is not the company’s president and CEO, but instead board chairman and owner. Daily Report regrets the error.