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Chris McArthur of Patriot Coffee evaluating coffee bean quality

Rebel’s 2023 word of the year is Audaciousand what better way to inspire the Audacious rebel in you than by sharing the stories of audacious individuals that have dared to make bold moves within their industries?

First up?

Let’s hear from Chris McArthur on Patriot Coffee’s unique brand position.

A Unique Brand Position

Patriot Coffee (which also happens to be one of two collaborations featured in our 2023 New Year’s box) was founded by Marine Corps Veteran Chris McArthur. In addition to roasting and selling small-batch artisanal coffee, this Veteran-owned coffee roaster gives back to the Veteran community.

Chris McArthur on active duty

Q&A With Chris McArthur

Q: What sparked your passion for coffee?

A: My passion finds its roots in our family traditions. A large portion of my family is from Puerto Rico, and as a young child, I enjoyed helping my grandmother make stovetop espresso for the family. Adding just a touch of sugar and milk to our Tupperware espresso cups.

The bittersweet flavor wasn't love at first taste.

But I remember fondly the way it brought the family together in the evening for conversation, laughter, and general togetherness and connection.

Today, I enjoy the unending variety, complexity, and nuance of specialty coffees from around the world. I absolutely love the stories of the journey that each coffee makes, from farm to cup.

Chris McArthur with Mother

Q: How did you come to the decision to go into the coffee business?

A: When you decide to open a business at twenty-three with no real professional or business management experience, you go with what you know. I knew enough about the restaurant industry and coffee to be dangerous. So I decided on a coffee shop as my first entrepreneurial venture. I wanted to create a space for the kinds of connections I experienced as a young boy sipping stovetop espresso.

Nine years into owning my cafe (Black & Brew), I decided I wanted more control over my most important ingredient––coffee.

So I launched Patriot Coffee to bring Lakeland, Florida, its first local roastery.

Q: Tell us about how Patriot Coffee gives back to Veterans, what inspired these programs and why they matter to you.

A: Patriot gives back by providing bags of coffee via care packages to troops serving overseas via organizations like Kids in Support of Soldiers, The Stano Foundation, and our own effort, Operation Hero’s Salute. We also partner with Patriot Service Dogs and donate a portion of every purchase of our Blend No. K9 to their effort. Patriot Service Dogs trains service dogs for wounded and disabled Veterans, free of charge.

Chris McArthur and K-9 friend showing the Patriot K-9 Blend coffee
Patriot Coffee K-9 Blend

Q: How has Patriot Coffee’s unique brand position—as a Veteran-owned business helping Veterans—been received by the public and the Veterans that you’ve reached?

A: Our customers value supporting a Veteran-owned company and value our efforts to serve other Veterans. The Veterans that have been on the receiving end of that help have always expressed gratitude through letters, emails, etc.

Q: How do you plan to uphold Patriot Coffee’s unique brand position as you scale and grow in the market?

A: As we scale, we will seek to identify new ways to invest in and serve our Veteran communities. We will also focus heavily on creating a space for the segment of consumers who have been left out of the 3rd wave of coffee.

Q: What kind of advice would you give someone that is looking to create a brand that is built around their identity or values?

A: The greatest advantage is earned by starting with a highly differentiated product. But if you must differentiate via your brand, and you are choosing to create positioning rooted in a particular identity or value set, it must come from a place of authenticity. This kind of unique brand positioning, expressed in an authentic way, can be very powerful as it has the potential to create strong emotional attachment and loyalty to the brand. Ensure that the market you are trying to reach is large enough to support your product, possesses a strong sense of solidarity and shared experience, which is not tied to a temporary trend or "political moment."

Q: Finally, we’re curious about the list of names under the section “Patriot Founders” on your website’s about page. Who exactly are all these people?

A: In order to create a sense of ownership amongst the community, get products in the hands of as many people as possible from inception, and raise funds for our commercial facility, I launched Patriot using a Kickstarter campaign. Our founders are those who contributed to the effort.

McArthur serving coffee in a market

Stay Competitive With A Unique Brand Position

Sure, you can go down to almost every literal street corner and grab yourself a tall oat milk latte at your local Starbucks, or you could go out of your way to support a local small business coffee shop that offers the same item. When the decision for where to grab your morning brew comes down to narrowing down the options, quality and brand come into play.

Establishing a unique brand position helps brands stand out against the competition, especially in a marketplace where brands are competing with almost identical products. When it comes to small-batch roasted coffee, Patriot is on par with the competition, maybe even a little better than most––not showing any favoritism here. But in addition to going the extra mile to ensure the best quality roasts, McArthur taps into his brand story to differentiate himself and reach an audience that possesses similar values. Drinking a cup of joe from Patriot Coffee becomes more than a daily coffee routine––it’s doing your small part in giving back to a community of Veterans that served our country.

To learn more about Patriot Coffee visit their website and stop by their shop in Lakeland, Florida if you’re in the neighborhood.