Ohio Icon: Crimson Cup Coffee and Tea

Crimson Cup Coffee and Tea

Location: In addition to its headquarters and roasting and training facilities on Alum Creek Drive in Columbus, Crimson Cup Coffee and Tea owns and operates two coffee shops in the city’s Clintonville and Upper Arlington neighborhoods plus another inside the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The company also has a fourth location in the Akron suburb of Tallmadge.

Provenance: Founder and president Greg Ubert quit his first job after college to start Crimson Cup Coffee and Tea in 1991. “One of the big drivers for me was having a really good cup of coffee in San Francisco,” says Ubert. “I thought that if I liked the taste of great coffee, others would enjoy it, too.”

After moving back to his hometown of Columbus, Ubert launched his specialty coffee business with one roaster in a one-room office. At the time, specialty coffee aficionados were concentrated on the East and West coasts, and Ubert soon found himself teaching customers “from the grounds up” about how maintaining superior standards at each step from beans to brewing yields superior cups of coffee. “Our vision was establishing meaningful relationships locally and globally, whether they were with new coffee shop owners or with farmers in South America,” Ubert says.

Significance: Crimson Cup is a multifaceted international business that imports and roasts coffee, develops and distributes coffee enhancers such as syrups and mixes, and not only educates but also nurtures coffee entrepreneurs through a franchise-alternative program based on Ubert’s book, Seven Steps to Success: A Common-Sense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee. The company has also garnered numerous awards, and in 2016, it was named Roast magazine’s Macro Roaster of the Year. “I’m especially proud of that honor because it’s like winning the Super Bowl of the coffee industry,” Ubert says.

Currently: Crimson Cup sources coffee beans from about 25 countries and annually roasts some 500,000 pounds of coffee beans. Besides its Ohio operations, the company supplies coffee to more than 350 customers in other states and countries, including independently owned coffee shops, restaurants, grocers, colleges and universities, and food service businesses.
Certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), Crimson Cup’s Innovation Lab in Columbus offers SCA-approved tutorials for both professional coffee crafters and consumers. Its programs include cupping and roasting courses, as well as classes such as “Espresso at Home” and “Coffee Education: Seed to Cup.”

It’s a little-known fact that: The three outstanding coffees that helped Crimson Cup earn its prestigious Roaster of the Year award were Ethiopia Biftu Gudina, Kossa Kebena, and the company’s exclusive Wayfarer Blend espresso.