My father was the first person in our family born in the US. We are Jewish and my grandfather was born in Poland. I’m 90% sure if he hadn’t gotten out of Poland when he did, he would have died in the holocaust. Coming to the US saved his life.
I thought about that while on a business trip to New York City as I stood on the bay looking at the Statue of Liberty. We were there to start a sister company to Greenhouse Coffee and we were trying to come up with a name for it.
We recognized that Greenhouse Coffee has its market segment, which is your everyday person who wants extremely high quality coffee at a reasonable price. We wanted to develop a different brand focused on the person who wants the best high end coffee no matter what because it is just spectacular. And we wanted it to become an internationally recognized brand to complement our work in Western China.
Looking at the Statue of Liberty, the hand holding the torch embodied this idea of ‘Give me your tired, your poor’, the idea of being a place of haven for people. So we came up with Torch Coffee.
When we pitched the name Torch to our Chinese team, they said it made them think of taking a light into a dark place. That resonated with our DNA, too. So Torch took on new meaning for us and the name stuck.
Here we are in China, the biggest market in the world, and we are the youngest, smallest players in the market.
Torch has two main characteristics. First, it’s the best coffee available. We will be taking the Torch brand into high end markets like Hong Kong and Shanghai. Second, it enables us to invest directly in coffee farmers. For me, it’s always been more about the people behind the coffee than the coffee itself. That’s what Torch was founded on.
The last piece of selecting Torch as our next brand was to come up with the Chinese characters for it, which is not always as simple as a direct translation. We came up with TUO 拓. It means ‘to expand’, and the character is a drawing of a hand holding a stone. We couldn’t help but think of the story of David and Goliath. Here we are in China, the biggest market in the world, and we are the youngest, smallest players in the market. Yet we have a lofty goal to make the Torch brand the most recognized brand for coffee in China.
We may be small, but we’re going to focus on excellence. Excellence in our coffee, excellence in the way we invest in the farmers behind the coffee, and excellence in the way we bring it to market. That’s Torch.
This article is part of a series about Greenhouse Coffee.
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