They’re here to reimagine coffee in the workplace.
Ben Martinez is a man who’s passionate about coffee.
This comes off immediately at the start of our interview, when Martinez rattles off a list of stats from memory: how many countries grow coffee effectively (29–34); how many businesses serve freshly roasted coffee beans (very few); the difference in taste between a fresh roast and a stale one (vast). He laments the lack of quality coffee available to many of Utah’s businesses, with most relying on K-Cups or low-grade Folgers to provide their employees with a quick caffeine fix.
This runs contrary to everything Martinez stands for as a coffee lover, drawn to the experience as much as the taste — sitting amongst co-workers, discussing the day’s thoughts and problems, savoring every swallow of fresh roasted coffee. For him it’s a bonding experience and through his new venture Sumato Coffee, he’s hoping to bring that mindset to the workplaces of Utah.
Martinez is so passionate about coffee that I absolutely believe him when he says he cares more about providing great coffee than making money. I know, seems unbelievable. If I had a nickel for every founder who has expressed this sentiment, I could fill three piggy banks.
Nonetheless, Martinez’s sincerity stands out when he makes this statement. He has spent nearly five years working for HireVue and during that time, noticed a common problem woven through Utah’s startup scene — bad coffee in the workplace. As an avid coffee man, this offended Martinez greatly. Drawing on his startup experience, he began laying the groundwork for Sumato Coffee.
“People leave their workplace to get good coffee and they shouldn’t have to,” said Martinez. “We’re introducing fresh roasted, third wave coffee into the workplace.”
If you’re confused by the term third wave coffee, don’t worry, I was too. Martinez explained it as the evolution of coffee, starting with wave one (Folgers wave, where Americans decided they wanted mass-produced coffee), progressing to wave two (Starbucks wave, the coffee experience introduced into cafes), and arriving at the third wave — where knowledgable coffee people concentrate on specific brewing techniques, fresh roasting, etc.
This is what Martinez wants to introduce to Utah’s businesses with Sumato Coffee, a subscription-based coffee service that “reimagines coffee in the workplace.” Buyers choose from a list of coffee beans, select how often they want it delivered, and Sumato takes care of the rest. Beans are fresh roasted after the order with the roast date expressed clearly on the package. This differs greatly from coffee you would buy at the grocery store — or even consume are your local Starbucks — where roast date is less essential.
“Coffee is most fresh 2–14 days after post-roast date, 30 days tops,” said Martinez. “Think of it like bread — it’s gets stale.”
Fresh roasted coffee maximizes two things, taste and antioxidants. The longer you wait, the more they diminish. Sumato revolves around providing a simple way for businesses to order high-quality, fresh roasted coffee. They launched officially on June 1 and Martinez is excited to finally have his product being consumed by the masses.
“Our launch doesn’t happen on June 1, it happens three months before,” said Martinez. “We did a lot of promotion before, had a good audience, but the hardest part was waiting until we had something to share.”
He does indeed have something to share — Martinez was kind enough to bring a bag of Thousand Oceans coffee to our interview, a taste of Sumato’s offering. I’ve never had fresh roasted coffee, so here’s my review condensed in five thoughts:
- Wow, this is freaking good.
- I’m glad I’m drinking this alone so nobody can see the tears of joy streaming down my face.
- Why didn’t anyone tell me about fresh roasted coffee sooner? Does this make me a third wave coffee member?
- So this is what it feels like to be a responsible adult who doesn’t drink coffee that comes pre-ground in a 10-pound tub.
- If Ben Martinez started a coffee-based religion right now, I would demand he baptize me in a body-sized coffee pot of Thousand Oceans.
So, there you have it. I can vouch for the taste of Sumato Coffee and if you’re looking for the best testimonial on why third wave coffee should be in your workplace, hit up Ben Martinez. He will answer all of your questions, fill your mind with coffee statistics, and explain the importance of workplace coffee reimagined.
“We’re trying to make this simple,” said Martinez. “I’ve always wanted to start my own company but I didn’t know what that would be. This opportunity kind of fell on my face, if I didn’t go after this I’d kick myself 10 years down the road. And so I went at it. I learned a lot from the start of HireVue, what to do, what not to do, and I’m learning a lot doing this right now.”