Local roaster donates 5% of sales to environmental causes

Jack Howland


Blue Smoke Coffee has only been around the Chattanooga area for a few years, but has already garnered a faithful following, due in part to the company’s charitable contributions. But Blue Smoke’s owner has no ambition of his company becoming a booming coffee powerhouse.

Chattanooga (UTC/TheLoop) — It all started as a hobby in his father’s old cabin in the Smoky Mountains on the weekends and during what little free time was granted him, but quickly blossomed into a full-time entrepreneurial undertaking.

For Kevin Price, owning his own coffee roasting company was never planned, for him it just kind of happened when some of his friends in Gatlinburg, Tenn. offered to sell his beans in their store. And Blue Smoke Coffee was born.

Blue Smoke Coffee commands a good portion of the coffee display at Greenlife Grocery and offers at least five different roasts.

Based now in Chattanooga, Tenn., Blue Smoke Coffee can be found in such retail markets as Greenlife Grocery, Earth Fare, and Crabtree Farms, and 212 Market Restaurant is currently offering Blue Smoke as a French press. Elsewhere, Blue Smoke Coffee can be found in Knoxville and Gatlinburg, Tenn., Boone and Asheville, NC, Atlanta, Ga. and can even be purchased online at www.bluesmokecoffee.com.

According to Price, Blue Smoke Coffee is not about becoming a booming coffee roasting monopoly. Instead, his goal is to continue roasting the highest quality beans he possibly can while also being able to give back to the community by donating five percent of his sales to environmental and humanitarian causes.

Kevin Price, at right, owner of Blue Smoke Coffee, attends several of the farmers' markets in Chattanooga and even donates time and fresh brewed coffee at various off-road running races.

“I have tried to refrain from studying what other roasters are doing and just focus on doing my own thing by developing my own unique way of blending and roasting to create blends that are distinctly Blue Smoke,” Price said.

Currently, Price offers five blends at each of the outlets that carry Blue Smoke Coffee. Such blends range from a light, medium and dark roast, to an espresso roast and a decaf roast.

All of Blue Smoke's coffees and merchandise can be purchased online and at many retailers in the region.

Price started out donating only one percent of his sales to the aforementioned causes, but as demand grew, so also has his donations. “Soon Blue Smoke will be donating 10 percent of its sales,” Price added.

Much of Blue Smoke’s sales directly benefit many of Chattanooga’s environmentally focused causes such as Appalachian Voices, Trust for Public Land – Stringer’s Ridge, Wild Trails and Crabtree Farms.

Price also maintains that many Chattanoogans are still not drinking local coffee, that the local roasters are competing against many national brands.

“My advice to Chattanooga roasters is not to compete with their fellow local roasters, but instead focus on taking market share away from the big national brands,” Price adds.

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