Steamboat coffee company, nonprofits hoping blends will kick start fundraising

John F. Russell
Steamboat Springs Coffee & Tea Co. owner John Kuhn, second from the left in the back row, and LiftUp of Routt County staff members got together last month to begin the process of selecting coffee blends that will be sold as a fundraiser for the nonprofit. It's the third local nonprofit that Kuhn has partnered with in the past two years.
Courtesy photo

Something is brewing in Steamboat Springs, and John Kuhn is hoping the finished product will be his chance to give back to the community he has come to love.

Kuhn owns the Steamboat Springs Coffee & Tea Co., a business he founded in 2014 that roasts, packages and sells speciality coffees and teas. But the company’s latest venture has less to do with profits and more to do with the character of his company.

“We want to be the most respected coffee company wherever we sell coffee,” Kuhn said.

That’s why he joined forces a few years ago with the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter to create a new coffee blend that is sold at Paws ’n Claws, All Things Pet, Outdoor K9 and the Routt County Humane Society, which runs the shelter. Kuhn sells and brews the coffee at less than wholesale and allows the shelter to keep the profits.

“If we are not giving something back, then we are missing the point,” he said.

Kuhn has also teamed up with Tread of Pioneers Museum to create a couple of specialty blends that are sold in the gift shop during the holidays. He said the production of those blends is timed to complement the museum’s Festival of Trees.

He said his company’s philosophy is like a three-legged stool. The first leg is to provide a quality product to customers, the second is to provide great service and the third, and most important leg for Kuhn, to give back to the community.

Steamboat Springs Coffee & Tea will team up with LiftUp of Routt County later this month to produce two new blends to benefit the organization.

“We are really, really excited about this opportunity,” said LiftUp Executive Director Sue Fegelein. ‘We are hoping that this will be one of our most successful fundraisers ever, and I think it has a good chance.”

Fegelein admits to being a bit of a caffeine connoisseur. She said she and several members of the staff have been very involved in the process of selecting the special LiftUp blends. One will be a “coffee light,” which has about half the caffeine of a regular coffee. The second blend will be more traditional.

The coffee will be sold at LiftUp, and Fegelein is hoping to have the LiftUp blends at several other locations around town by the end of the summer. Kuhn said he will feature the coffee at his stand at the Steamboat Springs Farmers Market.

Kuhn said getting the nonprofits involved in the process — whether it’s selecting the blends, designing the labels or helping roast the coffee itself — is vital to the success of the fundraisers. 

“When I moved here five years ago, I’m not really sure I knew what giving back was,” Kuhn said, “But after getting involved with Rotary, the Peace Pavilion and some other organizations, I saw just how important it was.

“I’m looking for opportunities where I can say, ‘Hey I’m going to give a little, you’re going to give a little and the community is going to give a little and we are going to make an impact.'”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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