By Juliana Vadnais / Assistant Manager Editor Albuquerque Business First
March 23, 2018, at 4:02pm
Allen Bassett, former president of New Mexico Pinon Coffee, left his family-owned business in June of last year. When he left, he said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do next, saying he might start a new company.
And that’s just what he did. Bassett and his partner Jon Priest, COO of Vitality Works, started Sol Rio Coffee in late 2017. Even though he didn’t set out to return to the coffee business, Bassett’s passion for the drink eventually got the best of him.
“I love coffee, I love the way it helps people get through the day and I wanted to have something I could get out there and be proud of,” Bassett said.
Sol Rio Coffee, whose concept is ‘change what’s in reach,’ will sell wholesale packaged coffee blends and origins with an emphasis on all-natural, organic fair trade coffee. When Bassett and Priest first came up with the concept, they thought about how a business could be even more involved locally with its community.
“It’s this concept of taking care of employees and really participating with local nonprofits,” he said. “We have some cool, very unique ideas about partnerships with local nonprofits.”
Sol Rio got its first trial run in December when it provided the coffee for the annual Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees.
“The executive director of the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation came to me looking for a coffee sponsor,” said Bassett, who is a previous 2017 40 Under Forty honoree. “I told him not to worry.”
Bassett and Priest were in the process of buying a coffee roaster from Verena Street Coffee in Iowa and had them roast some beans for them for the event.
Bassett and Priest closed on a 7,200-square-foot property at Eighth Street and Bellamah Avenue in the Sawmill District in January. There, they will roast and package beans as well as have a small retail shop in the front. The grand opening is scheduled for late May.
“I am extremely excited for Sol Rio Coffee’s grand opening,” said Chris Armistad, associate broker for Allen Sigmon Real Estate Group who has multiple listings in the Sawmill District. “The trends I’ve seen in the area are definitely positive, and adding a business backed by local talent like Allen is a huge gain for the Wells Park and Sawmill area.”
For now, Bassett is the sole employee but said he hopes to start hiring soon.
New Mexico Pinon Coffee posted $5.38 million in 2016 New Mexico revenue, according to Largest New Mexico Private Companies List.
Story originally reported on Albuquerque Business First:
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