Fire Dept. Coffee produces a variety of coffee grounds, including Skull-Crushing Espresso.
As if fighting fires wasn’t already an admirable feat, this group of first responders has upped the ante by creating a wholesale coffee company and donating a portion of the proceeds to sick and injured firefighters and first responders. In a video interview for GDA’s Meet the Makers series, Luke Schneider, founder and CEO of Fire Dept. Coffee, shares the company’s origin story and how the team roasts 6 million pounds of coffee a year.
“When I was in the Navy I drank a lot of coffee to stay awake and alert for long shifts and working long hours,” Schneider said, “and when I got out of the Navy that was my knowledge and experience with coffee — just all about the caffeine and drinking it to stay alert and wake up.
“I became a civilian firefighter and during that time I met my wife who was a barista …. We started roasting coffee together because we thought it would be cool if we started roasting coffee and served it to like friends and family and at farmer’s markets. So we rented out an 800 square-foot strip mall and purchased a five-kilo roaster,” Schneider continued. “I wanted to do a coffee that spoke to being a firefighter and that gave back to charity, so I did a fire dept. blend and out of everything we did, that just took off and people loved it. So, in 2016 I launched Fire Dept. Coffee with a mission to make great coffee and support our first responders and firefighters.”
The rest is history and now the company, certified by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), has a roasting facility in Rockford, Ill., and fulfills about 20,000 orders per day through its shipping facility. The Made-in-America manufacturer sells everything from Skull-Crushing Espresso to spirit-infused coffee varieties.
Designed by a fellow firefighter, the company’s branding and package designs are no joke, either! Watch the full video interview with Schneider to learn more about Fire Dept. Coffee and its foundation for first responders.
Lenise Willis is the editor in chief of Gifts & Decorative Accessories, which has been covering the gift, stationery and home industry for more than 100 years. She is a graduate of the Journalism School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and brings both print and digital experience in news and marketing to the magazine. Through market events, as well as print and digital reporting, she leads conversations concerning product trends and news affecting changes in the gift industry at large.