Fledgling student business unveils coffee blends

UW-Eau Claire entrepreneurial students launch Blugold Roast, debut product line-up at College of Business 50th Anniversary Bash

Blugold Roast sells four coffee blends. Light roast and medium roast sell for $12.99, while decaf and dark roast, or the “Chancellor’s Blend” sell for $13.99 (Kelsey Smith).

Photo by Kelsey Lorraine

Blugold Roast sells four coffee blends. Light roast and medium roast sell for $12.99, while decaf and dark roast, or the “Chancellor’s Blend” sell for $13.99 (Kelsey Smith).

Story by Andee Erickson, Projects Editor

UW-Eau Claire saw – or rather smelt – a new student-run business launched on campus last Friday at the College of Business’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Blugold Roast, a coffee business selling four organic blends, was founded by a team of nine students, many of whom are members of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO).
Their products will be sold both online and at various campus events, including the Centennial Campus Market and in the Davies Center.

The business is an opportunity to keep current students and alumni connected, said CEO President Tyler Anderson. In fact, student and alumni collaboration formed the basis for the new business.

Students with Blugold Roast visited Seattle last spring to meet Jim Stewart, an alumnus in the coffee roasting industry who could show them a behind the scenes look into the business, said Anderson, a sophomore business management and entrepreneurship student.

The team was unable to hire a Seattle roaster due to high shipping costs.

Instead, Anderson said another Eau Claire alum and JAMF Software owner, Zach Halmstad, connected Blugold Roast with Roastery 7 in Minneapolis to roast their coffee.
“It gives students that networking tool and also real life experience of being in business,” Anderson said.

Their coffee is shipped in from all over, Anderson said, but predominantly South America, especially Ecuador and Costa Rica. After Roastery 7 roasts their coffee and sends it to them, Blugold Roast is responsible for distribution, he said.

Ann Rupnow, the advisor to the group and entrepreneurship and economic development coordinator in the College of Business, said the local CEO chapter’s accomplishments are somewhat unique because being involved in the organization doesn’t mean students are required to start a business.

This marks the first time Eau Claire’s CEO has started a business and students are talking full reign of its ownership, Rupnow said.

Amy Hart, a fifth-year senior and entrepreneur student, has been involved with Blugold Roast since the beginning and appreciates its place in the campus environment.

“I love that you’re free to mold it into what you want,” she said. “I don’t like being tied down and the freedom to choose what you do with it is appealing.”

There’s also a more personal reason for enjoying the venture. Unlike Anderson, who didn’t start drinking coffee until he started sampling blends for the business, Rupnow’s liked coffee from the beginning.