Brewing Success: The Journey And Growth Of Compass Coffee

Union Kitchen Accelerator Member, Compass Coffee, the local sensation in the specialty coffee scene, has captivated coffee enthusiasts with its exceptional brews and strong sense of community. Founded by Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, former U.S. Marines, Compass has experienced remarkable growth, expanding to 18 cafes, and opening their own expansive 50,000 sq ft roastery! Compass Coffee has achieved great success through hustle, adaptability, and building to last. 

Michael and Harrison's shared passion for coffee and their desire to create an exceptional coffee experience led them to start Compass Coffee. During their deployment in Afghanistan, coffee because more than a caffeinated drink to Michael and Harrison, it became their ritual. This sparked a dream to create a coffee company that not only created coffee that tasted good (real good) but also embodied the community that they felt when they shared a cup together. 

After their time in the Marines, Michael and Harrison embarked on a mission to explore the world of coffee. They spent countless hours learning about beans and roasting techniques, and fixing old espresso machines. Their relentless dedication and pursuit of excellence laid the foundation for what would become Compass Coffee.

By leveraging the Union Kitchen Ecosystem, Compass Coffee has gone from batch manufacturing in our shared kitchen space, a handful of cafes, and the beginnings of a CPG brand to opening their own facility in DC, running 18 cafes, and distributing their coffee nationwide!

Compass found themselves at home among a community of like-minded entrepreneurs all working towards similar goals and sharing lessons learned at Union Kitchen. Michael and Harrison leveraged every aspect of Union Kitchen from scaling production in our shared kitchen, growing sales and connecting with local accounts through our distribution, and finding product market fit in our stores. They also worked closely with the Union Kitchen Accelerator team on their mission, strategy, and products. 

From day one Michael and Harrison listened to their customer. Embracing taking chances, making mistakes, and listening to customer feedback is the backbone of the organization. Michael and Harrison went with the name Compass Coffee to symbolize their desire to help customers get their bearings and point them in the right direction for their day. Customers were that compass for Michael and Harrison and they built their company around making things people want. This adaptability to the market and consumer demand fuels their success. Their attention to these details can be seen even today as they open new cafes with drive throughs and add new breakfast sandwiches and food to their menu. 

With the opening of their roastery facility in Ivy City the Compass Team has complete ownership of their manufacturing making them captains of their own ship. They roast, test, and can their coffee, produce their flavor syrups, and bake for their cafes all under one roof. Control over their process is vital to their ability to maintain quality and make changes. Compass Coffee's commitment to quality, community, and exceptional customer experiences quickly resonated with coffee enthusiasts. The brand's growth and success can be attributed to their relentless pursuit of exceptional taste and their dedication to fostering a sense of connection and service within their cafes.

Compass is are an example of how owning manufacturing and following a phased approach to growth allows companies to have stronger margins and in turn achieve profitability fast and more consistently than their peers.

The Compass Coffee mission continues to be nurtured by the Union Kitchen ecosystem as the company enters new phases of growth. Compass has cultivated a community-driven coffee brand that exemplifies the values of passionate entrepreneurship.  With their growing number of cafes and unwavering commitment to excellence, Compass Coffee is poised to leave a lasting mark on the coffee industry as it continues to make REAL GOOD coffee and put a caffeinated smile on customers faces!