Intelligentsia and Stumptown and private labels and proprietary blending… oh my

Well, I guess Stumptown offering their product under private labeling is a new-ish thing.

Over at Shot Zombies today, a note of surprise brought on by my innocent statement, that behind the Primo Passo label is actually Stumptown coffee. I didn’t realize it was a secret. I hope I’m not getting anyone in trouble. Aparently we’re scoopin’ over here people!

But seriously, I didn’t think this was a big secret.

The piece at Shot Zombies references 9th St. Espresso’s dropping of Stumptown coffee in favor of Intelligentisa, over Stumptown’s unwillingness, back in ’09(?) to privately label and offer proprietary blending…

‘I wouldn’t let him put a sticker over the Stumptown bag,’ he says. ‘That’s our coffee, man.’

Duane Sorenson

…to frame its surprise at the situation. It does appear there has been a change of heart up in Portland.

I wonder if this new willingness has anything to do with Stumptown’s influx of funding from last June.

Two things I didn’t know: the reasons 9th St. Espresso dropped Stumptown, and that Intelligentsia apparently offers proprietary blending.

Ya learn something new every day.

Update: To be clear; I’m on the fence about private labeling. I think there is a way to do it right but transparency is key. A café’s label attached to a bag that clearly indicates who is responsible for the production of that particular coffee is ideal if a private label is what you simply must have.

I don’t quite understand, or more accurately, I suppose, agree with the motivation behind the complete obfuscation of the responsible party behind a bag of coffee. I think ManSeekingCoffee gets it right…

@danapalooza @shotzombies Thanks for sharing. I wish ST hadn’t changed their mind. Why should cafes be able to buy a lack of transparency!?

A central tenet in the quality proposition that is imbedded in the 21st C. coffee roasting ethos is exactly that: transparency. But also why would you want to purchase what amounts to taking full responsibility for what is in that bag of coffee on your shelf when you have limited control over the quality of that product? It’s you or your company’s name out there on the line. That is something to be taken very seriously. If you’re going to have a few links in the chain where something could possibly break, why not make it absolutely clear where you’re influence over the final product begins and where it ends. Also, the Stumptown name still carries some caché after all. Why not hitch a ride on it.

A note: it was expressed to me, on my initial visit to Primo Passo — a brand spankin’ new café it should be noted — that they are still working on the labeling. Maybe this is something that they are considering — that the covering over of the source of their beans is of limited value, and that clearly exhibiting that they are in fact in a partnership with what is still a well-respected 21st. C. coffee pioneer is not a bad thing after all.

This is the kind of situation that makes marketing so damn interesting to me.