Meet Quincy and Whitni Henry, the owners of Campfire Coffee Co. in Tacoma, Washington. They wanted to open an outdoorsy coffee shop with the social goal of getting diverse families into nature. With this dream, Campfire Coffee Co. opened in 2020. Made with grit, love, and campfires (yes, they roast their coffee beans over a campfire!), the coffee at Campfire Coffee Co. creates clear earthy notes, without any bitterness! If you can’t visit the shop in person, check out their online shop for whole bean coffee, apparel, drinkware, and more.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite part about the community in business is in and why?
One of the foundations that Whitni and I started Campfire on is that giving would be a central part of our model and really, what better product to give with than coffee? We loved coffee and we loved the outdoors before we decided to make an outdoor-focused coffee company so when we decided to start Campfire, we knew right away that we would serve the people of the Pacific Northwest and beyond by helping make outdoor recreation and education more accessible for those of us who have been historically underrepresented in that space.
We also operate with the triple bottom line model in that we look at obviously first and foremost, profitability, but also environmental impact and community impact. It’s awesome for us because, we’re America’s only Black, Woman, Veteran Owned coffee roaster and we are completely fossil fuel free in our roasting. Seeing that these things matter and the mission matters and people are responding to it and helping us live out this bold endeavor is incredible.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLkeitMatters?
If we can agree that people of color and women have historically been at a disadvantage in this country, economically, civically, and otherwise and if we can also agree that entrepreneurship is hard no matter who you are, then it would make sense that spending with diverse small businesses will have a much deeper impact for those organizations than it would if those dollars were spent outside of that community.
To be more specific, access to capital, access to networks, and networking opportunities are things that BIPOC entrepreneurs have historically had a more difficult time obtaining. There’s a good chance that non-BIPOC establishments can weather an economic downturn or slow down in sales because they’ll have the loans and credit and opportunities to reach out to potential customers in ways that can shield them. Whereas with a BIPOC-owned business, chances are, like us, you’re surviving purely from cash flow and hoping to build a big enough nest to help you weather difficult times. So when you #SpendLikeItMatters it really and truly does matter.
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
Well, how we roast is pretty crazy. We literally roast over an open flame wood fire. So when we say we are Campfire Coffee it’s our name but it’s also our method. It came out of necessity too – as at the time we were getting going none of the roasters I reached out to wanted to work with us. So we were left to get innovative and figure out how we could roast coffee in a really cheap way.
So we literally got a popcorn popper and went to our backyard fire pit and started roasting coffee over the fire. The next thing we knew, we were finding out that no one else roasts this way, they all use these huge fossil fuel-powered roasters and afterburners. The only thing I could find about roasting this way was some obscure videos of people in coffee-producing countries – mainly developing nations – where they were roasting big batches of coffee over bonfires.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
Not only are we the only fossil fuel-free coffee roaster in the country (that we know of, anyway) but we’re also working towards huge goals in sustainability. While we source our wood locally here in western Washington, we hope to one-day roast coffee with used coffee grounds, as coffee that ends up in landfills emits a ton of nasty greenhouse gases (quite literally tons of it).
It may also be worth noting that Whitni and I both had zero prior coffee experience prior to Campfire. We don’t come from some hardcore 3rd wave coffee school of thought and experience – she was in the Army and worked in Mental Health Counseling and I worked in Marketing at a Seattle-based agency and prior to that was a touring musician.
What are some of your favorite local businesses and why?
There are a handful of businesses that we just love.
I could go on forever!
Anything else you’d like us to know about you and your business?
We’ve been blessed to have reached approximately $50,000 in coffee fundraiser sales where half of the proceeds go to various organizations around the country that work to make the outdoors more accessible.
Find us @welovecampfire and welovecampfire.com!