When Dave Schwanke first started roasting his own coffee beans, he had no intention of quitting his day job.
“When I would go to buy a bag of beans,” he says, “I would create delicious coffee. And then I would brew it the same with my home-roasted coffee, and I would create a lovely cup of mediocre coffee.”
Still, Schwanke had been looking for a way out of his 25-year career in advertising, and would often give samples of his home roast to professional roasters he knew. Eventually, he got pretty good. So in 2015, he took some money out of savings, sold his motorcycle and launched Clutch Coffee.
But another of Schwanke’s culinary hobbies turned out to be the product that distinguishes Clutch from the mass of Portland coffee roasters—coffee soda, a caramely drink that’s sweetened with agave, lightly fizzy and highly caffeinated. At his wife’s suggestion, Schwanke started to sell his homebrewed soda on tap at farmers markets. One day, he sold some soda to an investor, who offered on the spot to fund bottling and distribution.