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Community Highlights: Meet Claudia McMullin of Hugo Coffee Roasters

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claudia McMullin.

Hi Claudia, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I moved from NYC to Park City, UT, in 1999 when I quit my Wall Street law firm job, sold my apartment and moved west – with no job. All I wanted was to NOT be an attorney. When I landed in Park City, I realized it is what I knew how to do… so I did it off and on for years. But, during those years, I was always on the hunt for a new career. In this quest, I ran an animal rescue, Nuzzles & Co., ran for and won public office for two terms and bought a coffee shop in 2014. Once I purchased the coffee shop, I realized quickly that I wanted to start a roasting company to (1) control the quality of my coffee and (2) impact the world of animal rescue.

I started Hugo Coffee Roasters in late 2015 and rebranded it in 2018 to be a social mission-based company whose mission is to save animals by roasting and selling fantastic, fair-trade, organic coffee. My vision is to be the go-to coffee for animal lovers nationwide. Hugo Coffee Roasters has two brands: Hugo Coffee and Fluffy Cow Coffee. Hugo Coffee products support domesticated animal rescues and Fluffy Cow Coffee supports farm animal sanctuaries. As you can tell, I don’t care what animals I help save, as along as I’m saving animals! We support animal rescues in 3 ways: (1) we donate 10% of profit annually to animal rescues, (2) we host weeklong online fundraisers every week of every month (2 for Hugo Coffee benefiting specific animal rescues and 2 for Fluffy Cow Coffee benefiting specific farm animal sanctuaries), and (3) we underwrite our local NPR station’s “adoptable moment” benefitting Paws for Life (and being partially responsible for the adoption of over 250 cats/dogs). At Hugo Coffee Roasters, we are equally proud of the quality of our coffee products as we are our mission!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Smooth road?? Dear God, no. When COVID hit in March 2020, Hugo Coffee Roasters’ revenue was 95% in food service: hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc. We lost 95% of revenue overnight when all of our customers closed their doors. Luckily, we were in mid-pivot to direct to consumer when COVID hit – meaning that I was in the midst of a brand audit and interviewing for a marketing team. We pivoted hard and immediately. I invested money rather than shy away. We redid our website to optimize our online Shopify store, hired a marketing team to create content (social, website, e-blasts), PPC advertising, top to bottom sales funnel strategies and SEO. We retained a broker to help us expand into brick & mortar grocery and recently got picked up by a national distribution company, UNFI. I was also honored to be one of 15 recipients of the Stacy’s Rise Project grant and mentorship program in 2020, which helped me tremendously in navigating the morass that is brick & mortar grocery. Other perennial struggles involve cash flow and funding for growth!

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
What sets Hugo Coffee Roasters apart from other coffee roasters is (1) we are female-founded and owned in a very male-dominated industry, (2) our social mission which is to save animals by roasting and selling fantastic, fair-trade, organic coffee, (3) our vision which is to be the go-to coffee for animal lovers nationwide, (4) our unique branding, playful message and quality coffee, and (5) our focus on innovative products. I want your readers to know that I am most proud of our mission and the impact we have on specific animal rescues and sanctuaries. I also want your readers to know that our coffee is fantastic. At Hugo Coffee, we intentionally and specifically do not just rely upon our mission to sell our coffee. Our quality is just as important to Team Hugo.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Resilience in the face of adversity. Don’t shy away from opportunity but, rather, seize it. Stay calm and ask for help.

Pricing:

  • Signature Roasts: Black Paw French Roast, Bonafido Dark Roast, New Trick Light Roast, Rollover Breakfast Blend, Downward Dog Decaf MSPR $13.99 – $.15.99
  • Dog Daze Cold Brew 1 lb bags MSRP $15.99 – $17.99
  • Dog Daze Cold Brew Packs MSRP $15.99 – $17.99
  • Bonafido and Rollovers Singles MSRP $16.99
  • 5 lb bags of any signature roast MSRP $75

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Cali Warner

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