Partnership with St. Jude Hospital Speeds Growth of Mission-Driven Coffee Co.
When the young daughter of Ward Myers’ friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor seven years ago, several hospitals were unsuccessful at treating her, which led the family to seek help at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where their daughter emerged from treatment cancer-free.
The story—and a profound appreciation for St. Jude— stuck with Myers, a career entrepreneur. So in 2015, when Myers sold Hyper Pet, his Wayzata-based company, he knew he wanted to get into a business that would give back—ideally, to St. Jude.
Having a temporary noncompete in the pet products industry, Myers started thinking about what he could sell for humans. Coffee, Myers says, was an easy choice. “It’s the second most-consumed beverage after water,” he says. “So, a) it’s a huge market, and b) if you’ve ever had a child or family member that has spent a lot of time in the hospital, then you know, thank God for coffee. So it just seemed to make sense.”
His concept was both heartfelt and strategic—the children’s hospital, which pays 100 percent off all patient costs including travel and housing, is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 pediatric cancer hospital by U.S. News & World Report. The hospital has eight affiliate clinics and 24 partner sites around the world, including one in St. Louis Park.
St. Jude liked the coffee idea and offered Myers a contract in 2017. With that, Hope Products was born. The Orono-based coffee company gives 50 percent of profits, or a minimum of $250,000 a year, to St. Jude to help fund treatment and research.
Hope Products currently offers 100 percent Arabica coffee in ground coffee and K cups (single-serving brew pods designed to work in popular Keurig machines). The company will soon be expanding to include hot cocoa and tea.
Hope coffee is sold in stores nationwide, including CVS, Kroger, Menards, Kowalski’s, Hy-Vee, Albertsons, and Lunds & Byerlys, as well as online at Amazon. Meyer’s extensive background in retail and St. Jude’s reputation made it an easy sell. St. Jude also features Hope Products on social media and will be adding them to their mailer catalogs, which are sent to nearly 2 million people eight times a year.
“The average coffee drinker drinks two and a half cups a day, so you can imagine every morning you get your Keurig machine, you pop in that K cup, and you see that Hope Products and St. Jude logo,” Myers says. “That’s brand impression, three times a day, every day. It’s not seasonal. It’s not regional. Everybody, for the most part, drinks coffee.”
And everyone, Myers says, loves to support a good cause.