Compass Coffee: Building a Stronger D.C. Food Ecosystem

This is the first of five blog pieces by guest author, Compass Coffee. Compass Coffee, founded in 2012 by two former U.S. Marines, Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, has 12 cafes in the greater Washington, DC area, as well as a line of packaged products sold in Whole Foods Market, Giant Delivers, Yes Organic, Streets Market, and Union Kitchen.

The D.C. food startup scene has been steadily growing over the last few years. Beyond high-flying restaurants and awesome food trucks, The District has started to see the growth of innovative and nationally recognized consumer brands. From Snacklins landing an investment by Mark Cuban, to Clark’s Cubes being featured on Good Morning America, businesses Made In D.C. are thriving, and Union Kitchen and its partners, like Compass Coffee, are excited to be building the future.

A Basket of Union Kitchen Member Products

A Basket of Union Kitchen Member Products

Compass is a prime example of how Union Kitchen builds successful food businesses and how together with its accelerator members, it can build a stronger and more resilient local food business ecosystem. This 5-part series will explore how Compass started working with Union Kitchen and utilized its shared commercial Kitchen space to build its Simple Syrups product line. We’ll look at how Compass took their syrup bottling line and turned it into a hand sanitizer production facility to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We will also dive into the Union Kitchen distribution network to talk with Compass Director of Corporate Development, Kuran Malhotra, about how Compass scaled through Union Kitchen’s network of grocers and went from selling a few tins of coffee to becoming a well-known brand with numerous product lines and significant shelf space. Then, we’ll take a look at how Compass buys products from other Union Kitchen members, and how Union Kitchen distribution’s daily delivery system allows Compass cafés to provide a wide variety of exciting new food products. Finally, we’ll explore how Compass has committed to the Made in D.C. movement, and we’ll see how members like Compass contribute to Union Kitchen’s vision of a food ecosystem that focuses on building to last and always insisting on excellence.