May 20, 2006 in Business

A youthful blend

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Kathryn Stevens photo

Simon Craven-Thompson, owner of Cravens Coffee Company, holds a bag of Spokane’s Promise Blend coffee. The blend of coffee was chosen by area teenagers, who are a part of the local version of America’s Promise, called Spokane Promise.
(Full-size photo)

Locally-owned Cravens Coffee Co. is combining its beans with its social conscience to promote Spokane’s designation as a top U.S. city for young people.

Coffee drinkers can savor the results. It’s a new blend of coffee concocted by Spokane teenagers during their recent visit to Cravens’ roasting house.

Known as Spokane’s Promise Blend, the coffee comes in a bright red bag with a red wagon label. It celebrates Spokane’s selection as a child-nurturing city by the America’s Promise organization, said Simon Craven-Thompson, co-founder of the coffee company known for funding numerous area non-profits for families and kids.

A group of teens from the Spokane Youth Alliance packed Cravens plant a few months back to create the blend during a marathon taste test. “We went through a lot of cream and sugar,” Craven-Thompson, a native Englishman, said with a laugh.

“But they were very discerning. We walked them through the distinctive characteristics of different coffees and they were able to thread them together.

“It couldn’t have gone any better. It was a large group and they were committed to a consensus decision and kept working towards it until finally they came up with something they all liked,” he said.

The bag’s red wagon design is a bow to the logo used on the America’s Promise Website identifying award-winning cities.

Product release coincides with Red Wagon Week, the city’s weeklong fete of its kid-friendly status.

Look for the new brew at Rosauers Supermarkets, Yokes Foods, Super 1 Foods and Tidyman’s. Available as whole beans or already ground, it retails for about $8.99 a bag.

“It’s a unique blend of light and dark roasted beans from Colombia, Guatemala and Sumatra, resulting in a buttery balance and a rich full-bodied finish,” according to the description on the label. Some sales proceeds will be funneled to area groups for teens, said Craven-Thompson.

“In Spokane, we have a bit of an inferiority complex at times,” said Craven-Thompson said. “But I think it’s important to celebrate some of the things we do well and this is one of them.”

He and his wife Becky Templin, also his business partner, decided their company should support children’s causes after the birth of Benjamin, the first of their two sons.

At the start of each year, the company markets Benjamin’s Blend, sending $1 from each bag sold to kids’ charities.

After Craven-Thompson’s return from coffee buying trip to Africa, he said his family decided its coffee company should start backing a small African orphanage for kids whose parents have died from AIDS.

It exemplifies one of the three C’s in the company’s mission, he said.

“From the start we’ve been Cravens Coffee Company, with three Cs. And we strive for coffee quality and consistency, customer service and community involvement,” said Cravens-Thompson.

“We’re not exactly the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But it’s sort of the next step and it’s part of what we do. There’s so much we can do in our daily existence if we just think about it.”


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