Monday, October 24, 2011

Gay coffee has arrived in the LGBT community...

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...Image via Wikipedia

. Gay Coffee Has Arrived In The LGBT Community...

How do you combine your love for the LGBT community with an unbridled passion for roasting the very best coffee? If you’re java devotee Melissa Krueger, you create a new brand of coffee that embraces and celebrates the wonderful diversity of queer culture called Gay Coffee. (Naturally.)

Krueger’s queer coffee quest began in 2004 in Northampton, Massachusetts where she opened a small café called the Elbow Room. It was there that she honed her craft of coffee roasting and earned her café’s reputation for serving the best hand-roasted coffees in town. Krueger’s success soon inspired her to sell her small café and follow her passion by pursuing a new career as a full time coffee roaster.

Shortly thereafter, while watching images of gay couples in New York marrying on television, Melissa Krueger and her partner Mary began brainstorming a way to combine their new coffee roasting company with another big area of their life—being gay. This was the conversation from which Gay Coffee was born... or rather, came out.

Gay Coffee debuted at the Castro Street Fair in San Francisco, California on October 2, 2011 with five new hand-roasted coffee blends. Each named after various aspects of queer culture, Stone Butch Breakfast Blend, Good Morning Mary!, Red Hanky Roast, Second Date, and Weekend Pass mix humor with history to create a product that is both educational and enjoyable. Rather than simply tap into queer culture for the camp value, each package of Gay Coffee is also informative. Every blend named after an aspect of gay culture also includes a description of its place in LGBT history.

“One part of our branding is to take some stereotypes and themes we are all sort of familiar with, take ownership of them in what we hope is a fun and funny way, and then compliment the wink and chuckle with a piece of something more meaningful and thoughtful,” said Krueger. “I have actually learned quite a bit about gay history during this project. I’m always particularly delighted when someone reads the back of one of our coffees and says, ‘Oh cool, I didn't know that!’”

A brand name with such obvious ties to the LGBT community might have made some entrepreneurs nervous, but Krueger says the idea that her coffee could be controversial was never an issue. “My main concern launching Gay Coffee was more that people would take the time to interact … and really enjoy the whole product – our branding, our sense of humor, our mission and, of course, our coffee. ”

Aside from perpetuating the unique legacy of queer culture, a percentage of all profits from Gay Coffee are also donated to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. However, it was also important to Krueger that her company be mindful in another way as well.

“Unlike the vast majority of coffee companies out there, 100% of our coffee is sourced fair trade and organic. We think the fair trade price and mission should apply to all of the coffee farmers we buy from, not just a couple,” Krueger said. “I have travelled to coffee producing areas and spoken with coffee farmers, stayed at their houses, and feel very strongly about our commitment to being a real fair trade company.”

Melissa Krueger’s commitment to fairness and quality has earned Gay Coffee high praise since the brand debuted earlier this month.

“The response to the product has been incredibly positive,” Krueger said. “I am personally in awe of the tremendous positive feedback we have received, and inspired to continue to create something that does good, tastes great, and makes people happy.”

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