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Get to Know Necessary Coffee

This Lancaster, Pennsylvania roaster fills an important need!

by Team Trade | September 19, 2019

As the name suggests, this Lancaster, Pennsylvania roaster fills an important need!

Conceived by Passenger Coffee’s founder David Stallings, Necessary showcases everyday coffee that benefits its producing partners while providing quintessential flavors many coffee drinkers love. 

What inspired you to create Necessary?

"The inspiration for Necessary resulted from many trips to coffee producing countries that our green buying team completed while sourcing coffee for our sister company Passenger Coffee. Again and again, as our team reflected on conversations with producers, we found ourselves challenged by an inherent tension between our commitment to buying coffees with extremely specific quality constraints and our desire to forge broader, more impactful partnerships with producers.

Some people talk a big game regarding the high prices they pay for particularly high scoring coffees, but these high scoring lots tend to make up a very small percentage of a given producer’s total harvest. Focusing on the literal ‘cream of the crop’ while leaving the producer with the majority of the year’s harvest still to sell — often at a loss — is far from the healthy and equitable supply chain that we want to pursue.

Necessary Coffee was created out of a desire to proactively respond to this challenge. It represents our attempt to help build more of a market for delicious, high-quality coffees that all too often fail to garner the attention — and the prices — that they merit."

What is Necessary's mission?

"Our mission is to support coffee producers in pursuing a more viable business model by paying better prices for as significant a percentage of their total harvest as we can. By roasting Necessary coffees to emphasize rich balance, sweetness, and accessible everyday flavors, we hope to find a larger market for our producer partners by appealing to as wide a swath of coffee drinkers as we can."

Tell us about the name Necessary.

"Any coffee lover will probably identify with the ‘necessity’ of that first coffee of the day! But all jokes aside, we hope that the name will underscore the importance of paying better prices for the coffees we enjoy every day. We believe that great tasting coffee is truly for everyone, and that all coffee consumers are important stakeholders in a more sustainable supply chain."

How does Necessary’s approach differ from that of Passenger?

"In most ways the approach for the two companies is exactly the same. We are equally intentional in the way we approach sourcing, roasting, and QC for both companies, and in most cases we simply buy greater volumes of coffee from the same producer or producing community and allocate some of these coffees to Passenger and some to Necessary.

> "While they often take just as much work to produce, there is a _much_ greater volume of these coffees..."

We choose coffees for Passenger that are clean and bright with more exotic, adventurous flavors that we choose to present at a light roast degree. These coffees are generally more rare and more sought after by specialty buyers, necessitating a higher price point. For Necessary, we select coffees that offer accessible, easy-drinking flavors that are ideally suited to a darker roast profile. While they often take just as much work to produce, there is a much greater volume of these coffees produced around the world every year, making it possible for us to offer them at a lower price point while still paying an excellent price to producers."

Tell us more about your team.

"David Stallings is Chief Visionary Officer for Passenger and Necessary. This effectively means that David is juggling a wide variety of responsibilities semi-constantly! Bringing a wealth of specialty coffee experience from his years with Parlor Coffee, and as a former green buyer for the Collaborative Coffee Source, David is centrally involved in refining not only the brand and sourcing vision for Necessary, but also working closely with our amazing Production Manager John Stallings to fine-tune our workflows.

We are also very fortunate to have three incredibly dedicated production assistants: Tyler Watkins, Peter Reeves, and Julianna Herr who have been absolute rock stars as our team has navigated the new challenges and rhythms of the Necessary launch. As Director of Coffee for Necessary, I am responsible for selecting and buying the coffees that we roast and executing our QC protocols throughout their time on the menu to make sure all our coffees taste as consistently delicious as possible."

Tell us more about your packaging.

"I love our our Necessary retail bags! There’s a fun throwback quality to the design, sort of '50s grocery store chic, if you will. With the packaging we’re hoping to convey that, while we do see Necessary as an opportunity to pose important questions about coffee to a broader audience, we absolutely want the starting point of that conversation to be a coffee drinking experience that’s fun, approachable, and delicious." 

Where do you hope to see Necessary in the near future?

"Its only been a few months and we’ve already grown much faster than I expected, which is awesome! It will be really interesting to see how things evolve, but I’m already over the moon that this initial growth positions us to approach our buying, for both Necessary and Passenger, in different and meaningful ways in 2020. My hope for the near future is to see a continuation of this positive momentum."

 Anything else we should know?

"Yes! Necessary Coffee is B Corp certified! For those who aren’t familiar, B Corp certification is essentially a rigorous third-party audit that helps companies assess and measure their impact as a force for good within their supply chains and local communities. We learned a lot during the certification process, including many ways we want to grow and improve."

— Evan Howe, Director of Coffee