Hugo Coffee Roasters is a start up, Park City-based coffee roaster that aims to please their customers and better the lives of animals. Now that’s a mission us Parkites can get behind! Hugo Coffee’s goal is to support dog rescue by roasting superior fair trade organic coffee for their online, retail and wholesale customers. Their vision is to become the go-to coffee choice for animal lovers everywhere. A customer service centric environment accompanies Hugo Coffee’s fantastic products.
I chatted with Claudia McMullin—owner of Hugo Coffee, and visionary behind the dog-loving, good deed-doing company—to learn more about the business’ story and future.
What is Hugo Coffee’s origin story: why did you decide to open a coffee shop, how did you come up with the idea, who’s part of your team?
I opened the shop in 2013 after purchasing it from Silver Bean Coffee, who would remain our primary supplier. My previous life may surprise many of you who have not yet heard my story. Years of trial and error in terms of finding a fulfilling career that I loved, led to opening day six years ago. I had been an attorney for 25 years and when I moved to Park City in 1999, I continued to practice law. In my quest to find a different career path, I dabbled in several different things. First, I ran for County Council in 2008 and was elected. Simultaneously, I ran Friends of Animals (now known as Nuzzles & Co) for 2 years. It was after being re-elected as County Councilor in 2012 that the opportunity to open the shop presented itself and I immediately took advantage.
After a year in business, I decided to start a roasting company (Hugo Coffee Roasters) because I wanted to be able to control our own product and its quality while also having the option to wholesale our creations. Most importantly, I wanted to find a way to save dogs by selling my coffee. As I began to build my team, I hired John Lynn, former employee of Silver Bean Coffee, who became my head roasting talent. John is the true talent behind my company while I like to think of myself as the dog-loving visionary.
Which varieties does Hugo Coffee offer? And what is the inspiration behind them?
Hugo Coffee offers a range of specially blended and roasted coffees designed to appeal to a broad palette. Each blend is created by our master roaster, John. He chooses the importer, country of origin, and farm from which to purchase the organic fair trade green beans. He then skillfully creates the consistent roasts and flavor notes of each Hugo signature roasts.
Each roast is intentionally named with a nod towards dogs. Specifically, from darkest to lightest roast, Hugo Coffee offers Black Paw (French Roast), Bonafido (Med-Dark Roast), Rollover Breakfast Blend (Medium Roast), Howler Espresso (Medium Roast) and New Trick (Light Roast). In addition, Hugo Coffee offers Downward Dog Decaf (Medium Roast), Dog Daze Cold Brew (Med-Dark Roast) and our Rotating Roasters’ Choice which is a rotating single source bean from various countries and farms picked by John every 4 to 6 weeks.
Tell us about your mantra “Drink Coffee, Save Dogs” as well as your Giveback Program.
In May 2018, we rebranded our company to include an animal rescue giveback component to our mission. Rebranding involved all newly designed bags with fresh messaging. Our collateral changed to include the animal rescue giveback component that had always been a dream of mine. Whenever a consumer purchases one of our beautiful, delicious-tasting, colorful bags, we give back to animal rescues. To date, Hugo Coffee has donated to Nuzzles & Co, Best Friends Animal Society, Canines with a Cause, Utah Animal Adoption Center and several others.
Who is the famous Hugo?
Hugo is my handsome rescue dog. I was a foster failure due to the fact that after receiving him at 3 weeks, I failed to ever give him up. He is now 10 years old and happier than ever!
Hugo Coffee is much bigger than your flagship café. As you mentioned you have a roastery. Where can Parkites find your product?
Hugo Coffee Roasters completely supplies the coffee at Hugo Coffee Shop. We also sell our blends wholesale to several coffee shops and restaurants in the area. You can find Hugo Coffee, of course, at our flagship shop located in the Visitor Information Center at Kimball Junction. You can also find our coffee sold at other retailers including Whole Foods, Park City Market, Deer Valley Grocery Café, Gorsuch, The Store, and Jade Market. Our coffee is served locally at many restaurants & hotels including, St. Regis Deer Valley, Deer Valley, Marriott Sidewinder, High West Distillery, Fletchers, Twisted Fern, Harvest, Blind Dog, Eating Establishment, Pig & A Jelly Jar, and Provisions.
How do we stay updated about upcoming events and new product releases?
We have a robust Instagram and Facebook following, so our event and product updates are largely shared through our social media. Our website is also a great source of information. We recently held a customer appreciation event called ‘Puppy Love Lounge’ with Tyke James, a beloved contestant on the Voice. The event was such a success that we will be holding another event in April where Tyke will once again sing to an audience of adoring fans surrounded by adorable puppies. We had amazing support as Nuzzles was on hand with puppies up for adoption, Wasatch Creamery Ice Cream Co provided delicious ice cream treats and Drool sent everyone home with yummy treats for their furry companions!
So… we hear you have something top secret but very exciting in the works. Can you give us any insider info?
That’s right. A really exciting, brand-new product will be launched on our e-commerce site on April 1st. With this new product, you will have access to our first ever E-recipe book. Local chefs and mixologists are coming up with recipes to include and we will be highlighting five local businesses. We are also in the midst of revising our menu at Hugo Coffee shop, and will have a revamped menu starting in April. Along with fresh new food items on the menu, customers will also be able to get scoops of Wasatch Creamery Ice Cream at the shop. We are currently the only brick and mortar to have that opportunity. And last but not least, we will be launching a retail area which will host the products of like-minded, socially-conscious companies.
At Hugo Coffee we love two things: coffee and dogs… and not necessarily in that order. Stop by Hugo Coffee shop at the Visitor Information Center today and redeem your coupon for a great cup of coffee!
If you subscribe to my newsletter, you can take advantage of a special promo that I partnered with Hugo Coffee Roasters to offer in March. Not a subscriber? Contact me and I’ll be happy to send you the promo code.