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Coeur d’Alene-based videographer pivots to coffee roasting business during pandemic

Idaho resident Max Lathrop launched Rebel Joe Coffee in December. Since then, the company has experienced rapid growth as a result of burgeoning online orders.  (Courtesy photo)
Idaho resident Max Lathrop launched Rebel Joe Coffee in December. Since then, the company has experienced rapid growth as a result of burgeoning online orders. (Courtesy photo)

After Max Lathrop was laid off from a wedding photography and cinematography company amid the coronavirus pandemic in April, he found a way to channel his creative side into a new business venture.

Lathrop, who has more than a decade of experience in videography and graphic design, launched Rebel Joe Coffee, a Coeur d’Alene-based artisan micro roaster, in December.

Since then, Lathrop has expanded Rebel Joe Coffee’s customer base nationwide through posting comedic video content on Facebook and YouTube to drive brand awareness.

“Originally, (Rebel Joe Coffee) was just going to be a business with local delivery and a pickup location,” Lathrop said. “But what happened was, I started doing a lot of online marketing through Facebook for video content. I started doing funny videos and I was getting messages from people out of the area asking if I can ship out of state.”

Rebel Joe Coffee uses a hot- air roasting method for its variety of blends, which are sold in 12-ounce bags of beans, ground coffee or espresso grind for $12-$13. Customers can also purchase a 5-pound coffee bag of their choice starting at $58, or 12-pack breakfast blend pods for $14.

In addition to shipping nationwide, the company offers local delivery in Coeur d’Alene. Orders placed at rebeljoecoffee.com are typically shipped within three days to ensure freshness.

Lathrop oversees all aspects of operating the business – from building its website, managing social media, creating video content and roasting, packaging and shipping coffee.

“I had never thought of shipping (out of state), but I had so many inquiries,” he said. “There are four states in the country I haven’t shipped to. Ninety-five percent of business is actually shipping out the state, which I didn’t expect.”

Lathrop began roasting coffee as a hobby after obtaining a small roaster from his father’s Post Falls-based company, Coffee Crafters.

Coffee Crafters, founded by Ken Lathrop in 2013, sells coffee roasters and equipment. Last year, it launched FreshPod, a product similar to a K-Cup pod.

Max Lathrop’s coffee- roasting hobby evolved into a new business after videography work vanished as in-person gatherings – such as weddings – were restricted during the pandemic’s onset.

Lathrop knew he needed to pivot to a new business that’s “COVID and recession proof” to help support his wife and two children.

Lathrop said starting a new business during a pandemic was a challenge, but it created “a lot more motivation to see it through and become successful.”

Rebel Joe Coffee is launching a mobile coffee trailer this summer that sells espresso drinks, cold brew, bags of ground and whole coffee beans, and merchandise, he said.

“It will be available for the local crowd, and I’m hoping that will it be useful for events as well,” Lathrop said. “For right now, I’m primarily shipping and delivering in Hayden and Coeur d’Alene until I have a local spot where people can come pick it up.”

Lathrop hopes to continue growing Rebel Joe Coffee into a family business with potential for multiple coffee trucks and a brick-and-mortar store in the future.Amy Edelen can be reached at (509) 459-5581 or at amye@spokesman.com.

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