Kim Jenkins of Rising Star Coffee
traded his job overseeing 110 scientists and engineers at Lockheed Martin in Florida to move to Spencer, Ohio, and launch a new coffee roaster in Cleveland.
Given his background in driving technological innovation, it comes as no surprise that his approach to roasting the best possible coffee beans is, well, innovative.
"Specialty grade coffee is the top half to one percent of coffee beans on the market, and that's all we do," says Jenkins, who recently set up shop in the Ohio City Firehouse building on W. 29th Street. "Coffee is the second largest commodity trade after crude oil, and there's plenty of room for growth in Northeast Ohio."
Jenkins' plan is to sell beans wholesale while also marketing to individual consumers and selling coffee by the cup. He's capitalizing on rising consumer interest in the highest-grade coffee, he says. His model appears to be working, as his fledgling company is gaining at least one wholesale customer per week. (The retail operation is still in the works.)
Rising Star's coffee retails for about $14 to $18 per pound, with the higher end reserved for small batch beans produced on micro-lots in Brazil and other places he's visited. He has hired four young workers to assist him with his growing roster of accounts.
"The goal of Rising Star is to create a sustainable business model, make a little money and give opportunities to the young people who work here," he says.
Jenkins says the main difference between his coffee and others is flavor. "You'll be able to taste the coffee like it's supposed to taste, instead of it being weak, burnt or bitter," he says. "People describe it as sweet, nutty, fruity or tasting of cocoa. Most of the world drinks coffee that tastes like that. It doesn't even need sugar."
Source: Kim Jenkins
Writer: Lee Chilcote