Corvus Coffee Roasters, like most other food and drink businesses, found itself navigating a new landscape after the March 17 restaurant shutdown began. So the company adapted its business model accordingly, remaining open for takeaway, adding third-party delivery services, and starting up something new: Coffee for Nurses.
"It's like running a startup again," says Phil Goodlaxson, who opened Corvus ten year ago with his wife, Autumn. "People still have needs; our job is to figure out how to fill those needs in the new restrictions. What people need and want right now has changed; [we're] trying to adapt quickly to that.
"At the root of it, when something like this comes up, you can either worry about how you're going to survive it and have a survival mentality, or look for where we can provide value," he adds.
A survival mentality certainly comes into play — particularly when employees' livelihoods are at stake — but Corvus also took the new restrictions as an opportunity to get creative. So far, the coffee company has maintained 100 percent of its employees, but with reduced hours. "There's lots of initiative," Goodlaxson says. Employees have taken on additional roles, designed stickers, baked bread and found ways to make the business viable.
Goodlaxson explains that the Coffee for Nurses idea came from a co-worker whose wife works at UCHealth Lone Tree Medical Center. After some back-and-forth conversation, Goodlaxson opted to add a section to the Corvus website allowing customers to purchase bags of coffee to donate to medical centers, followed soon after by the option to pay for hot coffee and pastry deliveries. Customers who wish to donate can choose from options such as a twelve-ounce bag of Corvus's house-roasted coffee for $12, a five-pound bag for $70, or a twelve-pack of bottled cold-brew coffee for $48. For $30, Corvus will send a traveler carafe of hot coffee and enough pastries for ten health-care workers directly to a hospital.
Goodlaxson initially tested the idea to see if Corvus could raise enough money on its website to supply one shift at Lone Tree Medical. "I wasn't sure how many people would sign up to send coffee or pastries," he says. "In the first three days, we got almost $2,000 for the program."
At first, more interest and donations came in than connections to hospitals and other facilities dealing with COVID-19 cases. Fortunately, a Facebook post from a group of health-care workers tipped Corvus off to another place in need of coffee. That's when Corvus's wholesale and new business manager, Adam Kimball, took over processing requests because of the surge of interest.
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"The coolest thing is how many of our customers are just excited to show support," Kimball says. "That, yeah, the coffee's great, but it's nice to know the community has our backs. Everyone is so busy, they're running out, saying 'Thanks!' and running back."
"I believe really strongly times like this either show the values [businesses] put out there when times are easy, whether they're actually true or if they were just good words," Goodlaxson adds.
Corvus is trying to stay true to its core mission and values in this time of crisis, not only by adding value to the community, but by recognizing all of the health-care workers who are putting their own safety at risk.
During the first two weeks of the program, Corvus completed seventeen deliveries to staff at Denver Health, Swedish Medical Center, Medical Center of Aurora, Porter Adventist Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital's NICU and Children's Hospital Colorado, and University of Colorado Denver's ICU. Medical professionals who would like to get on the list for coffee delivery can contact Corvus at firstname.lastname@example.org.