Writer / Seth Johnson
The story of Grinds Coffee Pouches has a very humble beginning.
“We use the phrase fondly — ‘We were just two idiots chewing on coffee and getting some caffeine,’” says Grinds Coffee Pouches co-founder Pat Pezet. “Matt had just finished playing minor league ball, so we came up with the idea of, ‘Yeah, we could take this down to Spring Training and pass it around to some of our buddies.’”
After starting their brand out on the West Coast, Grinds Coffee Pouches has moved its headquarters to Westfield, allowing for a more centralized hub to serve devoted clientele throughout the U.S. Originally founded in 2009, Grinds Coffee Pouches provides a healthy alternative to chewing tobacco, with flavors that range from black coffee to spearmint.
Both former baseball players, Pezet and business partner Matt Canepa first met while attending college at Cal Poly, where they both were a part of the school’s baseball team. Looking back, the Grinds Coffee Pouches co-founders see the sport of baseball as the reason why they’re where they are today.
“It really was a catalyst to bringing us together, and eventually launching the company together,” Canepa says. “Without baseball, I’m almost certain both our lives would be completely different, and this would’ve never happened.”
After pitching their initial business idea to a contest at Cal Poly, the two were awarded $15,000, which they see as the first major springboard for Grinds Coffee Pouches.
“We just stretched out every dollar and turned that in a-year-and-a-half into the first production run, and it was feeble,” Pezet says.
With a strong network of ties to Major League Baseball through their playing backgrounds, however, the Grinds Coffee Pouches product eventually started to catch on, due to the duo’s calculated, on-the-ground marketing approach.
“We knew that the entire baseball world for basically a month and a half resides in two locations in the United States: Arizona and Florida,” Canepa says. “We knew a bunch of players since we’d been playing with them in college. We’d played with them in the minor leagues. Word gets around very quickly inside the locker rooms.”
Eventually, the duo got a call from then San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who had just won the 2010 MLB World Series.
“He had called President Obama the day before, and then he called us just to say thank you for providing him this product,” Canepa says. “For us, that was the first big name where we were like, ‘This can actually be something bigger than it is.’”
“It was like getting shot out of a cannon, except you weren’t in a rocket ship — you were in a cardboard box,” says Pezet on the impact of “Shark Tank” on their business. “So it was like one to two years until we got out from underwater, in a great way.”
Since appearing on “Shark Tank,” the Grounds Coffee Pouches brand has grown organically, so much so that Canepa and Pezet realized they needed to start manufacturing products in-house. In searching for a new headquarters, the duo first had their eyes set on another West Coast locale before their business advisor recommended otherwise.
“He was like, ‘Guys. If you’re going to move out of the Bay Area, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Nevada or Maine. Think about the places that are best for manufacturing, distribution and who have a great workforce,’” Canepa says. “So we started broadening our search to all sorts of places, and Indiana was one of them.”
Now located at 17065 Oak Ridge Road in Westfield, the duo couldn’t be happier with the decision to move their headquarters from California to Indiana.
“The people are great and very skilled,” Canepa says. “We’ve got a team in-house now who are fantastic. The location is great — it gets to 70% of our customers within a couple days of shipping. Everything about it has been really good.”
While Canepa and his wife still live in San Francisco, Pezet is now proud to call himself an Indiana resident.
“Life in Indiana is incredible,” Pezet says. “You have the quality of life, no traffic and affordable housing. You have downtown, but you also have the outskirts. I love it.”
In addition to having a centralized location, Grinds Coffee Pouches has also managed to build an Indiana-based team that it’s proud of as well.
“Theoretically, in the Bay Area, there are a lot of really skilled, highly-educated people,” Canepa says. “But heading out to Indiana, we’ve been absolutely thrilled with the amount of talent they’ve got and how hard working they are. We feel pretty good about the team we’ve built there thus far, and it’s only just starting to pick up and grow as we continue to grow the company.”
Grinds Coffee Pouches is located at 17065 Oak Ridge Road in Westfield. You can also reach them at 510-763-1088 or visit them online at GetGrinds.com for more information.