Coffee enterprise brews community for veterans
I have written about buying local many times over the years. Although that should be everyone’s mantra year-round, people seem to say it more as we get closer to the holidays.
This week I am focusing on one company because when you buy its products, there is an added, residual benefit: You will also be helping a veteran.
Welcome to Scars and Stripes Coffee, the brainchild of Chad Watts and Brad Dean. They got together and started thinking of a way that would be self-sustaining for veterans to get together for a fun reason. And after much prayer, the idea of selling coffee was created.
"So, the idea was to get veterans back together and have a fun time selling coffee,” Watts says. “That was the inception.”
To get involved, you have to be a veteran and joining is easy. Go to their website, https://scarsandstripescoffee.com/ and check the boxes and you are on your way. After that, you are plugged into the system and placed on a squad as part of a team.
“Now, this is not a handout,” Watts says. “It’s a hand up. So, once you get plugged in, you go out and build your own sales that you have a team of veterans around there just to support you as your grow your business. So, it’s super easy to sign up. You go to the website, join the mission, get a W-9 for tax purposes so we can pay you. And you do have to have a PayPal account so we can pay you.”
There is a nominal start up fee.
“As a consumer, all you have to do is buy a bag of coffee, cap or shirt. And what you are doing every time you buy a that bag of coffee or shirt, or hat or a mug is that 20% of the gross sale goes back to individual veterans,” Watts explains. “That individual veteran is on a team. So, by a consumer buying a bag of coffee, say for $15, $3 goes directly back to that veteran. ... Our goal is to help veterans get some camaraderie back ... and ... to get some extra income.”
Coffees offered have names including “Downrange Coffee,” “At Ease Expresso Blend,” “First Light Coffee,” “Standby Decaf,” “Green Zone Coffee” and more. Whole beans and Kanteen Cups are also available.
Products may be purchased at farmers markets, retail shops and online.
“Farmers markets have been great and they have been tremendous for our veterans — the healing that they get to do as they go out and talk with people," Watts said.
The coffee is also available at The Simple Brew in Harrah, Spurs & Lace Mercantile and Salon in Noble and the Conscious Community Co-op in Edmond.
“So, if you have a coffee shop out there, we sell wholesale to coffee shops," Watts says. "(And) we sell a tremendous amount online.”
It was at the Edmond Farmer’s Market several months ago where I discovered Scars and Stripes Coffee. My wife and I love shopping there quite often and we are also big coffee drinkers. I saw their booth and I simply walked up and started asking questions. And my wife and I have been buying bags of coffee from them ever since. Watts told me they are in farmers markets in other cities such as Atlanta and Massachusetts, and Ohio is coming online soon.
All the roasting and packaging of Scars and Stripes Coffee is done at Eote in downtown Oklahoma City through a partnership.
I have seen firsthand how the veterans in the company help each other. The camaraderie was so impressive and easy-going. They love helping each other. But at the end of the day, it is not all about selling coffee.
“There is that sense of community, that sense of camaraderie, that team spirit,” says Everett Robins, a veteran involved with Scars and Stripes for approximately a year and a half. “I have a network, a support team. So, if you are unsure what your next step is, what you want to do next, and you’re in a state of limbo, or looking for something that reconnects you with the type of people you served with and you enjoyed that, then reach out to us. It doesn’t have to be about the coffee. It just can be about you being in a better place tomorrow.”
Dino Lalli is the producer, co-host and one of the reporters for the weekly television travel show Discover Oklahoma.