Monmouth County, NJ Runs on Rook Coffee

Rook Coffee

1. No Poverty 3. Good Health and Well-Being

Overview

The founders of Rook Coffee decided to open a coffee shop that implements different, more sustainable practices inspired by the New Orleans Style coffee/cold brew. Rook wanted to incorporate quality, simplicity, and experience to offer a customer first business model with practices that benefit the community more than the business. By bringing West Coast style coffee shops to the East Coast, Rook was able to distinguish itself as an up and coming competitor in the local coffee shop industry.

Author

Steven Dinallo

Steven Dinallo

School

Fairleigh Dickinson University at Florham

Fairleigh Dickinson University at Florham

Professor

Gerard Farias

Gerard Farias

Innovation

Even though pour-over coffee was created back in the day, using it in today’s world isn’t as common as it used to be. Nowadays, coffee shops brew their coffee in a hot pot and just sell it from there. That’s where Rook said “we want to be different.” Each and every Rook location uses pour-over coffee. Instead of using the hot pot and leaving it out for a certain amount of time, each cup is freshly made. Each type of coffee is measured to a specific weight and a specific measurement for water to provide an amazing, consistent taste. Rook has its own signature coffee, called the New Orleans Style coffee/cold brew. This brew is a combination of Sumatra beans and chicory. The chicory gives you a nice little kick to the dark roast blend.

Shawn Kingsley, founder of Rook, went to Berkley and into coffee shops to study their environment. He observed the vibe and environment of each of the shops that he visited. While observing and comparing the coffee shops, he had an inspiration to open his own in the East Coast with the same style of those of the West Coast. While Kingsley was still living in San Francisco, Holly Migliaccio, co-founder of Rook, was traveling at the time. Migliaccio contacted Kingsley saying that she’s in the area and needed to stay at his place while waiting for her next flight. Kingsley tells Migliaccio that he has a proposition to open a coffee shop in the East Coast. She thought about it and finally said that she is all in.

Monmouth County, NJ Runs on Rook Coffee

Inspiration

The founders of Rook, Kingsley and Migliaccio, who were childhood friends, originally held corporate careers until they had a sudden change of heart in 2010. They decided to bring the style of West Coast coffee shops to the East Coast; specifically the Jersey Shore. They wanted to provide top customer service in every shop they owned. They have also decided to focus on offering specialty coffees that inspire genuine, human connections.

Rook wanted to provide the best quality of coffee possible while supporting the Fair Trade brand. They planned to achieve these three factors when it comes to coffee: quality, simplicity, and experience. Rook achieves quality by meticulously selecting, roasting, brewing and tasting the coffee before bringing it into their shops to ensure they have the best quality. They achieve simplicity through their love for great coffee and desire to share it with us. Rook wants to ensure that we are getting the best coffee with a great in-store experience. They seek happiness with each and every interaction and believe your experience is just as important as the coffee you ordered.

Overall impact

By offering a coffee shop with better customer experience without any of the complicated tactics, Rook increased its attractiveness to consumers. For example, Rook only sells Fair Trade coffee in its shops. The advantages of selling Fair Trade for the business include being environmentally sustainable, supporting democratic and transparent organizations, and creating a demand for a direct trade flow. By selling Fair Trade, Rook is able to market itself as an environmentally sustainable company and this positively impacts business by attracting consumers who also value sustainability. The business is also impacted by supporting democratic and transparent organizations, and by creating a demand for a direct trade flow because it embraces SDG #3; good health and well-being. Selling only Fair Trade benefits workers that farm the coffee and offers them the opportunity of a livable wage.

Rook also sponsors a 5k run for The Valerie Fund which raises funds for families impacted by childhood cancer. Rook also plans to give a percentage of their profits in donations to 180 Turning Lives Around and The Emmanuel Cancer Foundation in 2020. By sponsoring and donating to these organizations, Rook impacts the local community and embraces the SDG #3 of good health and well-being. Sponsorships and donations come directly from the company’s bottom line. This is an important aspect of sustainability because the company does not ask customers to donate through them, the company donates from their own profits.

By selling Fair Trade coffee, it also has positive impacts on the environment. First, Fair Trade coffee is shade grown which means that the coffee is grown in rainforests and there is no need for man-made forest fires to clear land for agriculture. Second, Fair Trade minimizes soil erosion by using shade growing techniques that allows surrounding trees to improve soil and water quality by protecting the land underneath it. By selling Fair Trade coffee to sell in its coffee shops, Rook actively participates in a healthy ecosystem and strengthens the natural environment’s resistance to disease by acting with the interest of the stakeholders in mind. Moreover, short-term impacts include benefiting coffee farmers and their land and bettering the quality of the environment. Long-term impacts include growth in sales and demand in both industries, the coffee shop industry and fair trade industry. These impacts occurred because they are advertised mainly by word of mouth. Their bumper sticker and logo can be seen around the local community; on cars, lamp posts, etc. As well, Maxim magazine listed Rook as #6 in their “The 7 Best Iced Coffees In America” article and in Buzzfeed’s “24 U.S. Coffee Shops To Visit Before You Die” where Rook was listed #16.

Business benefit

From a business standpoint, the innovation which is now the famous “Rook Coffee”, has clearly impacted the founders lives in a positive manner. Their success has been driven by three major factors; quality, simplicity, and experience. By ensuring that their customers will receive high quality coffee, without any above and beyond combinations or toppings (getting exactly what they want or are looking for), as well as providing customers with genuine service and overall experience have all lead to financial prosperity.

Social and environmental benefit

From a societal and environmental outlook, Rook also separates itself from other competitors in the coffee industry. As mentioned previously, Rook only sells Fair Trade coffee. By doing this, many positive outcomes are created. Positive impacts are made on those who actually grow and then distribute the coffee, ensuring they are fairly compensated and not taken advantage of. Fair Trade coffee also positively impacts our environment. Things such as shade-grown coffee grown in rainforests mean the need for man-made forest fires that are typically used to clear land for agriculture are obsolete. In addition, Fair Trade coffee helps reduce soil erosion due to the growing process which includes shade growing techniques that are assisted by surrounding trees by improving soil and water quality through conserving the portion of the land the trees are settled on.

Interview

Shawn Kingsley, Founder

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Rook Coffee

Rook Coffee

Long Branch, New Jersey, US

Business Website: Rookcoffee.com

Year Founded: 9

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

The founders of Rook Coffee decided to open a coffee shop that implements different, more sustainable practices inspired by the New Orleans Style coffee/cold brew. Rook wanted to incorporate quality, simplicity, and experience to offer a customer first business model with practices that benefit the community more than the business. By bringing West Coast style coffee shops to the East Coast, Rook was able to distinguish itself as an up and coming competitor in the local coffee shop industry.