If there are two things our office loves, it's coffee and dogs. What else makes the Earth go round? With her recent graduation from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, receiving the award for Park City's 2018 Small Business Person of the Year by Alignable and just all around being an awesome human being, Claudia McMullin and her company Hugo Coffee Roasters are the Utah Microloan Fund's May Small Business of the Month!
UMLF: Claudia tell us about yourself and your background. What made you get into roasting coffee in Park City Utah?
Claudia: I moved to PC from NYC in 1999 after quitting my job in a Wall St. law firm and selling my apartment. In my never ending quest to NOT be an attorney, I was the Executive Director of Nuzzles & Co for a few years and ran for office and was elected for 2 terms at a Summit County Council member. During my tenure as Chair of the County Council, I sat on the executive committee of the PC Chamber and learned that the coffee shop vendor in the Visitor Information Center was not renewing its lease. I went home and told my husband that I could run a coffee shop and .. Voila.. I bought the shop. Within 1 year I decided to buy/start a roasting company because I wanted to vertically integrate and control the quality of my own product. I reached out to the talented roaster, John Lynn, in summer 2015 and we launched Hugo Coffee Roasters together in December 2015.
In addition to animal rescue, my passion is to mentor young entrepreneurs (Lucky Ones, Drool) and connect people. I am a member of the PC Chamber, UWNG, PCWBN, and President of the PC Rotary. I have sat on many nonprofit boards including the Sundance Advisory Board, University Hospital Foundation, Kimball Arts Center, PC Chamber, and MAG. I am currently on the Lucky Ones Advisory Board.
UMLF: What is the history of Hugo’s for those who don't know the scoop?
Claudia: I opened Hugo Coffee shop in the Visitor Information Center in Kimball Junction in February 2013. I decided to name the company after my handsome rescue dog, Hugo, because I ran Nuzzles & Co and was known for loving animals… especially dogs. I launched the roasting company in December 2015. In 2018 we rebranded Hugo Coffee Roasters to include an animal rescue give back mission. Our mission at Hugo Coffee is to save dogs by roasting fantastic organic fair trade coffee! Our vision is to become the go-to coffee for animal lovers nationwide.
UMLF: How do you feel Hugo’s is different from other coffee roasters in Utah?
Claudia: Hugo Coffee Roasters’ differentiator in the roasting world lies in our animal rescue give back mission. For every retail bag of Hugo Coffee sold (whether online via Amazon or in brick & mortar retailers like Whole Foods), Hugo Coffee gives between 8-10% of its proceeds to an accredited animal rescue. For example, for all online sales, Hugo Coffee donate to Best Friends Animal Society. For all regional sales, Hugo Coffee donates to Nuzzles & Co. - unless our customer prefers a different animal rescue in which case we’ll donate to the customer’s chosen rescue. Hugo Coffee also pops up at animal (Yappy Hours) and animal rescue related (Super Adoptions, Strutt Your Mutt) events and farmers markets to sell our retail coffee and swag to benefit specific animal rescues. In addition to Nuzzles & Best Friends, Hugo Coffee has donated to Canines With a Cause and the Utah Animal Adoption Center.
With respect to our roasts, Hugo Coffee’s roasts are intentionally and specifically created to appeal to a broad range of palettes and, as such, range from light to french roast dark. Our coffees are all named with a nod towards dogs: New Trick Light Roast, Rollover Breakfast Blend, Bonafido Medium-Dark Roast, Howler Espresso, Black Paw French Roast, Downward Dog Decaf and Dog Daze Cold Brew. Our beans are organic fair trade. In picking the specific farms from which to buy green beans, John seeks farms that pay a living wage and offer benefits to all employees. Locally, we are environmentally focused by utilizing an oxidizer with our roaster for prevent emitting particulates into the air.
Oh, and finally, our coffee is fantastic!
UMLF: You recently graduated from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. Congrats! Tell us about your experience going through the program.
Claudia: I loved every minute of the GS10K program! I met the most amazing people who I hope to have in my life for a long time. I felt supported and inspired by my fellow entrepreneurs. My growth opportunity involved launching a new product – which I did on April 1st. Dog Daze Cold Brew Packs for making cold brew at home or camping without any muss or fuss. I can’t wait to collaborate with and support every single one of my fellow scholars!
UMLF: What is your favorite blend of coffee you guys produce?
Claudia: I love Bonafido and drink a french press of it every day. Once the weather warms up, I drink Dog Daze Cold Brew as well.. And everyday!
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as a small business owner and how you overcame it?
Claudia: Cash flow! Self funding launching and growing a manufacturing company was much more expensive than anticipated. Incurring debt vs. investor capital to supplement my own funds was my chosen path. I do not want to incur any more debt so must become self sustaining in 2019.. Which I am on the path to become!
UMLF: How do you believe the Utah Microloan Fund has helped you and your business?
Claudia: The UMLF has helped me with financing equipment for my new customers.. Especially St. Regis Deer Valley. And, of course, providing critical cash flow. I am beyond grateful to the UMLF for their support and resources!!
Thanks for sitting down with us Claudia! To try Claudia's coffee you can visit her in person at their coffee shop, check out their roastery or buy online:
To visit the Hugo Coffee Shop:
To snag a bag of coffee online you can visit here:
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