July marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers, the compilation released after Marley's death that brought reggae to the forefront of rock-music popularity (read all about it in our current Bob Marley Backbeat feature). Marley fathered nearly as many children as he did hit songs, and one of them -- Rohan Marley -- brought his coffee company to Sunnyside last summer in order to consolidate multiple office locations and also take advantage of Denver's reputation as a healthy city with a high appreciation of natural and organic foods. While it continues to sell coffee around the country, over the past year Marley Coffee has been expanding its market presence in Denver, including bringing its buzz to Coors Field.
See also: How Bob Marley was sold to the suburbs
I stopped in at the Marley Coffee corporate headquarters yesterday, hoping I'd find a coffee bar in the style of craft beer- and wine-tasting rooms attached to breweries and wineries. No such luck -- it's just an office, even if a bright and modern one, with employees' dogs greeting guests, exposed brick and beams towering overhead, and massive murals of Marley and Jamaican themes lining one vast wall. Rohan, chairman of the publicly traded company, was nowhere to be found (I'm guessing he prefers the quiet life in Jamaica), but I met up with Erika Krumtum, human resources and project coordinator, to talk about Marley Coffee's presence in Denver. Since opening day of the current season, Coors Field has been stirring it up with Marley Coffee at all of its concession stands, suites and restaurants; it also boasts an automated coffee kiosk on the club level.
While coffee vending machines have been the butt of office jokes for decades, the technology has advanced considerably. Krumtum showed me the inner workings of one of the credit-card-ready machines, which grinds whole coffee beans before dispensing coffee and espresso drinks either straight or mixed with milk or cocoa (powders, in both cases). The machine runs a cleaning cycle between cups to ensure your shot of espresso doesn't taste like someone else's mocha. Even when the Rockies are losing -- almost a sure thing these days -- you can still chase the chills during a rain delay with a cup from the kiosk or the concession.
Krumtum also outlined the company's focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness. Coffee pods compatible with Kuerig brand machines manufactured by RealCup are now made of compostable and recyclable materials, and a penny of each pod sold goes to the WaterWise Initiative, which provides clean-water solutions for coffee-producing farms and facilities in Ethiopia.
Krumtum has visited the company's coffee farm in Jamaica. "Most coffee companies are there to get the most coffee for the cheapest price," she said. "Rohan makes sure our farmers are taken care of. It's part of our commitment to the community." The company donates regularly to a school near the farm and has implemented water-reduction practices, since coffee production relies heavily on water to separate the beans from the berries. "Even the berry fibers are fed to earthworms, which are then returned to the soil on the farm," she added.
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The company has been expanding rapidly (the website boasts a 153 percent sales increase over last year), with the bulk of sales coming from regional and national grocery chains, but with additional business coming from online sales, office coffee services and food-service outlets. Marley Coffee be purchased at Denver area Vitamin Cottage and Safeway grocery stores.