Memphian, Jeremy Harris started Reverb Coffee in April 2013. Just two years later, he’s making waves in our fair city. Us 688-er have have continued to enjoy freshly ground Reverb coffee in the Studio for months (thanks to Jeremy for providing us caffeinated-creatives with the top-notch bulk coffee we need to fuel our work).
Though Reverb is already making a name for itself in the 901, Jeremy plans for his currently small coffee company to reach far beyond the boundaries of our city. He plans to touch lives all over the world and to change the coffee industry and the world for the better.
As he notes on his website, “to reverberate means to echo or to have continuing serious effects.” Jeremy plans for Reverb’s efforts to echo far beyond the Midsouth. He plans to expand the coffee industry’s current fair trade model by partnering with coffee farmers in the far reaches of the world. He plans to work with these farmers to improve their communities as part of these partnerships.
First, however, he’s working continually to establish Reverb’s place in Memphis’ coffee culture and in the city’s broader culture. As he works to expand his business, he plans to work with inner-city youth and young adults though a mentorship program. Jeremy has a plan that’s actionable and steadily in action.
He’s creating “superior coffee for a superior cause; great coffee for a greater good,” and it all starts here in our community.
Take a gander below at our Q&A with Jeremy and prepare yourselves for excitement. Reverb is “rolling out” something new in the very near future.
Also, of course we couldn’t interview Jeremy without taking a peek inside Reverb’s workspace. See where the magic happens. Thanks to Keegan Eyler for snapping these wonderful photos. Who knew a roastery could be so darn artful?
Okay, Jeremy, let’s break the ice. Give us a little non-coffee-related info about youself.
After I graduated from the University of Memphis in 2010 with a degree in Economics, I did some overseas mission work for two years. I visited 20-25 different countries. The teams I worked on did a lot of different work from preaching, door-to-door visitations, earthquake relief work in Haiti, etc.
How did you get into the coffee industry?
In my mission work, I experienced a “coffee epiphany” in the Dominican Republic. I had never been a coffee drinker until an elderly lady brought us little “shots” of coffee that was probably grown in the area around her and roasted there too. It was an incredible cup of coffee and opened my eyes to the beauty of coffee. After that, I was chasing the next great cup.
I got into the industry on a small scale when I worked on a team that helped open up a coffee shop for a House of Prayer in Malaysia. We did everything from picking out a roasting supplier, purchasing equipment, figuring out how to become a legal business, and pretty much the entire startup process. This gave me a taste of not only startup but also a deeper passion for coffee.
Tell me about some of the businesses you currently partner with in Memphis?
We work with a lot of different people around the city. Three of the most visible ones right now are Avenue Coffee, Cash Saver/Madison Growler Shop, and Memphis Made Brewery. Avenue is a coffee shop that exclusively brews our coffee, and is in line with our ideology of creating a better coffee culture in Memphis. Cash Saver is a great retail space for us. We sell a lot of coffee there. That allows us to stock it fresh every week with pretty much every roast that we do. Memphis Made makes a coffee stout from our Dark Sumatra roast. We’ve done it the past two years, and it is an incredible beer to enjoy during the cold season. Drew and Andy at Memphis Made are great guys, and they are incredibly fun to work with.
Okay, we heard about a coffee truck entering the mix very soon. Tell us more. Where will we see you around town?
The truck is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I bounced around a lot of different ideas for expansion, but the truck kept popping up in my mind. It’s a way for me to make my company extremely visible in the community and allows me to be extremely flexible and still serve excellent coffee on a broader scale. At the start, the truck will bounce around all over town. You’ll see it in Downtown, Midtown, East Memphis, the suburbs, etc. After we get a routine down, we will narrow down our locations to where we have the best following and can serve a high number of people in a short amount of time.
What does the future hold for Reverb?
Over the next year, we will solely be focusing on building the food truck and establishing a routine/schedule for it. We want our customers to know where we are going to be every day, so establishing a routine will be great for them to know where they can find us at all times for their coffee needs. We have a couple things that we may get into in the next year or so, but the truck is our primary focus.
In the long term, we definitely want to have multiple brick and mortar cafes. Having actual cafes allows us complete creative control of the entire coffee drinking experience. I’ve done a lot of traveling and have seen some incredibly designed cafes (and some bad ones too). With Reverb, I want to establish one of those places that people are drawn to and want to come back to over and over again.
Also, we want to change up our coffee sourcing procedures. At some point in the long term we want to start working directly with the farmers. That will take a lot of work to set up, so I will have to have a good team around me before I start to work on that.
Giving back and helping the city is always a primary focus of Reverb. As the business grows, we will look to give back in more ways. We eventually want to give jobs to youth and young adults from underprivileged areas in our city, and help mentor them to get them through high school, college, or whatever season of life they are in.
If you could tell the Memphis community one thing about Reverb, what would it be?
Reverb is focused on elevating the coffee culture in Memphis. We want to create an industry that demands greatness from roasters, cafes, and anyone involved with coffee. I’ve seen cities that have great coffee cultures. It drives tourism, people relocating to that city, and generally increases the creativity and vibrancy of a city. I think an elevated coffee culture ties in so well with everything else already going on in the city, and I am excited to see what the future holds for Reverb and for Memphis.
Thanks, Jeremy Harris, for taking the time out of your busy day to let us visit and pick your brain. For more information about Reverb Coffee, their method, their mission, and their vision, and to order yourself a bag of Reverb’s best, visit the Reverb website. If you’re in the Memphis area, you can purchase Reverb Coffee at Cash Saver on Madison (among other retailers), have fresh cup of Reverb coffee at Avenue Coffee, and sample Memphis Made‘s “Reverberation” Coffee Stout (made with Reverb’s Dark Sumatra roast) at watering holes around town later this year.
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