Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Taylor Maid Farms of Sebastopol is undergoing a massive makeover to better compete in the tough U.S. coffee market.
The company’s reinvention begins with a name change to Taylor Lane Organic Coffee.
“It’s a little more relatable,” said Ted Robb, a partner at InHouse Ventures of Healdsburg, a boutique investment firm that bought the coffee company in 2016 from founders Chris and Terry Martin.
The company began on Taylor Lane in Occidental, where the Martins roasted coffee on their property. Chris Martin took the Taylor Maid name while watching his daughters run the lavender fields of the property and thought of them as little maids, Robb said.
“The word ‘maid’ is a little outdated,” he added. “It also stops the confusion with TaylorMade Golf.”
But the name isn’t the only change. It’s opening three new retail locations, two inside Whole Foods stores in the Bay Area and another in SOMO Village in Rohnert Park, where the company also will move from its Sebastopol headquarters.
The SOMO Village site will allow for more space for education and training of its baristas and wholesale clients, Robb said. Taylor Lane has experienced 20 to 30 percent growth in its wholesale business, mostly by producing private-label organic coffee for supermarkets and food service providers, he said.
The Whole Foods locations will be inside the store at the Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa and the store in San Francisco’s Mid-Market district, home to many tech workers commuting to nearby companies such as Uber and Twitter.
Taylor Lane already has a retail location in Petaluma, right next to a Whole Foods.
“We see this an opportunity to continue to build a partnership with them,” Robb said of the supermarket chain that was bought by Amazon last year, turning it into a retail juggernaut in both the digital and bricks-and-mortar marketplaces.
The U.S. coffee market already is competitive, with retail leader Starbucks going up against many other large firms from Dunkin Donuts to Peet’s Coffee to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which last month announced it would open 100 more stores in New York. There also are many independent chains, including locally Petaluma-based Acre Coffee and Flying Goat Coffee, which has two locations in Healdsburg and one in Santa Rosa.
Research firm Mintel estimated U.S. coffeehouse sales last year were at $23.4 billion and projected to grow to $28.7 billion by 2021.
Given the stakes, InHouse hired industry veteran Darleen Scherer as Taylor Lane’s new chief executive officer. Scherer co-founded Gorilla Coffee of Brooklyn and is credited for leading New York’s third wave coffee movement that ushered in high-quality, artisanal coffee to consumers. She’ll help oversee Taylor Lane’s changes and its expansion of locations and new products, including coffee pods, which now represent 37 percent of overall sales for the industry.
“I love their history and they have 25 years of being organic since Day One,” Scherer said of Taylor Lane. “I think that speaks to their core values.”
Changes will appear on the menu as well. The Petaluma location soon will offer new items, including bread produced by Santa Rosa’s Goguette Bread with toppings ranging from avocado to salmon. The menu will cater to customers who like to-go items.
“We see this as a starting point,” Robb said. “They just don’t want muffins and croissants. They want real food.”
By Bill Swindell, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.
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