Tom Witta • Star Tribune,

My Job: Justin Mannhardt, Peace Coffee coordinator

  • Article by: LAURA FRENCH
  • February 3, 2014 - 9:49 AM

my job


“We participate in about 300 events in a calendar year,” Justin Mannhardt said. “Whether we’re sponsoring an event, exhibiting at an event, or making a donation of brewed coffee, I coordinate all those events.”

The goal of event participation is to raise visibility of the Peace Coffee brand, thereby increasing market share. “It’s not a lot of budget, so we need to use it very wisely,” Mannhardt said. He is responsible for the decisionmaking, with input from the sales and marketing teams.

“It’s hard to measure the value of events,” Mannhardt acknowledged. “I don’t think there’s a quantifiable standard. What we’re looking at as a company is the probability we’ll generate new customers. That’s based on the size of the event, and the location. If we’re exhibiting in an area where we have a lot of customers, we may not have a lot of growth. If there’s a new grocery store, we definitely want to be around there.

In his previous job, Mannhardt worked for a printing and marketing communication service. “I was looking for a company with a socially conscious mission. Peace Coffee made it to the top of my shortlist,” he said. “I was definitely a frequent visitor to the Jobs page on the Peace Coffee website. Once this job popped up, I stopped everything else and dug out my résumé.” He likes the combination of doing marketing strategy and being “out amongst the community.”

How do you present Peace Coffee at events?

One way I describe it to people, our mission statement starts out with “making great tasting coffee,” but the crux of it is to create a system of fair trade with people who produce coffee around the world. In order to be successful, we have to build a quality product and turn a profit. The coffee is a bridge to that conversation — it opens their eyes to what’s happening behind the coffee industry and what’s happening in the world. All of our coffee is 100 percent fair trade and 100 percent organic. I’m hard pressed to find any coffee roasters in our scene that can count both of those factors. We also have a very diverse product line up — light roast to dark roast, espresso, decaf. There’s a wide variety of tastes and aromas that we’re able to cater to. It’s just delicious. After I give my elevator spiel, I let the product speak for itself.

What 2012 event was the most fun?

Funnest event we did this year was Farm Bike down in Northfield. It was a really rainy day — the event was in September. Rainy, cold. The event is students and community members in Northfield biking between farms and co-ops, and ends at a farm with food and music. When you’re in Northfield, you have Carleton College and St. Olaf. You always have a new opportunity, with new students, turning them on to the issues of fair trade and sustainability. It’s hard to fail when you’re the guy bringing the coffee.

What’s the secret to brewing a great cup of coffee?

Here would be a good plug for the mastering coffee at home class that’s taught at the Wonderland Café on Minnehaha Avenue. There’s a little bit of a science to it. Our class breaks through that uncomfortable zone — why a cup might taste bitter, weak, strong, acidic. The class schedule is on our website. □


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