Source: Birmingham News
A coffee battle is brewing in Birmingham.
Baton Rouge-based Community Coffee has infiltrated the Birmingham market with a new sales and distribution center in the Oxmoor Valley.
Matt Saurage, chief executive of the 91-year-old company, said he believes Birmingham needs another strong regional brand to compete at the retail level in grocery stores, Walmart and convenience stores, as well as in what is termed “on-premise” sales at restaurants, offices and hotels.
“Our business is balanced in both of those areas,” Saurage said.
The move could create battlefields for two of Birmingham’s oldest companies.
Red Diamond Coffee & Tea Co. — a family-owned enterprise that turned 104 years old this year — has staked a claim on the local coffee market with an emphasis on dominating retail sales as the “hometown” coffee company. Bill Bowron, the fourth generation of his family to lead the company, opened a new 65-acre corporate campus in Moody last year to support efforts across the nation.
After 114 years, Royal Cup has fortified its position in the Birmingham market with on-premise sales with local and chain restaurants in the metro area, small and large companies and several hotels and convenience stores. The company, which operates throughout the United States, has been owned and operated by the Smith family for generations.
But don’t look for Saurage to plan to decimate his rivals. That’s because he views those companies as friends rather than enemies.
“Community Coffee is a family-owned business and we have been friends with the Bowron and Smith families for generations now. The same is true of Henry Bright, who started O’Henry’s,” Saurage said. “It’s a small industry when you get down to it. We think very highly of those coffee companies and they represent something that’s unique in the South.”
Though it may be friendly competition, Community will be bringing competition nonetheless, Saurage said.
“We believe there is an unmet need in Birmingham today and that’s for a brand of coffee that can serve across the spectrum from your in-home brand to the coffee you have at work to the coffee you experience when you’re out for dining and entertainment,” he said.
A spokesman for Bowron at Red Diamond declined comment. Efforts to reach Royal Cup officials were unsuccessful.
Randy Adamy, who purchased the O’Henry’s operation from Bright 11 years ago, said having another coffee company operate in the area — even one as large Community — won’t oversaturate the market.
“Coffee is like a lot of other commodities in that there is a wide demand for all kinds of coffees,” Adamy said. “It’s a friendly business, but that’s not to say we’re not all competitors as well.”
Community Coffee’s beachhead in this percolating battle is an 11,200-square-foot sales and distribution center at 340 Industrial Drive. Sonny Culp of Graham & Co. leased the property to Community Coffee, which was represented by Howard King of Watts Realty.
The building includes 2,500 square feet of office space; the remainder is warehouse and distribution space…
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