Pictured Peter Thomas, left, with Cynthia Bailey and Russell Wiggins
Russell Wiggins is the owner of Russell’s Gourmet Coffee, an Atlanta, GA based coffee and beverage service and distribution company.
Russell has launched multiple brands for others under his company. We caught up with him to find out more about his business model and how things are going during this recent wave of support for Black-owned businesses.
What inspired you to start your coffee business?
I was inspired to get in the coffee industry after learning about corporate and federal contracting while working at Xerox Corp. and noticing that coffee was that one consistent commodity being consumed in every office I visited.
I also realized there were no Black-owned coffee companies going after beverage service contracts. We were mostly in technology, janitorial, or security. So I teamed up with a couple of my business friends to start a coffee company in San Francisco, California to compete for corporate and federal contracts.
This led me to learn so much more about the coffee industry, the beans, and the business. As a result, I became fascinated with the entire and I was hooked after that.
What sets your coffee apart from others on the market?
Russell’s Gourmet Coffee is a whole lifestyle brand for true coffee enthusiasts, as well as the novice. We offer gourmet coffee beans roasted to perfection, and all of our coffee is roasted to order for the freshest, most robust taste. We have a roasting profile that leaves our beans full of flavor with a smooth taste.
We combine top-quality Arabica beans with our secret roasting profile to unlock the sweet flavors specific to each bean.
Our beans are cultivated using environmentally sustainable methods without chemicals and additives to make every cup great for you and the environment.
Then, Russell’s Gourmet Coffee is packaged and labeled to your specs and delivered to your desired location. We take pride in making sure that quality is at the core of everything we do.
How did you get involved with Kim Fields and Peter Thomas to start their coffee businesses?
Peter and I became friends when I moved to Atlanta nine years ago from San Francisco. We met at an industry party and became fast friends.
Once he found out I was in the coffee industry, I approached him about a private label under his name for a Jamaican rum flavored coffee.
It was a great partnership that landed the coffee on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I was introduced to Kim Fields and her husband Chris Morgan while in Jamaica filming for RHOA. Chris and I just clicked and have become the best of friends.
Kim loves coffee and was interested in establishing her own private label, Signature blends by Kim Fields, under the Russell Gourmet Coffee umbrella.
Now, Kim and I have been partners for about 3 years. Kim and Chris always dreamed of owning a coffee shop and I was already in the business so it was a partnership destined to happen.
What has the response been since we included you on our list of coffee brands?
I have been pleasantly overwhelmed by the amazing support we have received as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests. In fact, our site crashed for nearly an hour after Starbucks denied their employees from wearing any BLM paraphernalia in their stores.
People were outraged and looking for another alternative. That was Russell’s Gourmet Coffee. Being added to your Black-owned coffee lists has been absolutely phenomenal. Media exposure has been a huge help for the brand as well.
It helped to introduce the brand to a lot of new people and coffee drinkers. So to be added to your platform was a blessing. We are looking to expand our volume sales.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Ultimately, I want to see this company grow to a supernova level. Over the next 5 years, we plan to expand our volume sales by getting into grocery stores and more corporate environments.
I would also like to become a resource for other Black people who want to get into the coffee industry.I currently work in local Atlanta schools educating kids about entrepreneurship through coffee bean cultivation, roasting profiles, and the history of the commodity.
I also teach the kids how to sell iced coffee for school fundraisers. Russell’s Gourmet Coffee can be a catalyst for change in the way Black people think about entrepreneurship and socio-economics.