Posted on January 31, 2018
It’s undeniable that a love for the ocean can shape a person’s entire perspective on the world, as many San Diegans living so near its power and beauty day in and day out can attest. For a group of guys raised on the beaches and in the water around Cardiff and Encinitas, it’s not only affected their personal lives, but also how — and with whom — they choose to work.
After Grayson Adams decided a life in mortgage finance wasn’t what he wanted in his long-term future, he connected with a friend who’d left the industry to import coffee and pitched the idea of creating a label of their own. That friend, Joe Bettinger, became the fledgling company’s Chief Coffee Officer, and with Adams as President, they drew in other talent to round out their team and bring their dream company, Marea Coffee, into reality.
Composed of people from a web of connections that center around a shared upbringing and surfing lifestyle, Marea, meaning “tide” in Spanish, was envisioned in mid-2016 and was ready for business in the first weeks of 2017. The team attributes the company’s rapid progression and ability to sidestep many of the usual early-stage growing pains to their mutual lifestyle and history, which is at the heart of Marea’s corporate ethos. “I think the general common cultural background helps us get through issues pretty easily,” says CEO Greg Moser. Bettinger adds, “All of us have those same core values that we don’t even talk about, but just have a common understanding. Everyone’s on the same plane.”
That “plane” includes creating a brand of coffee that is sustainably produced, ethically sourced, roasted locally, and delivered to customers’ doorsteps within two weeks of roasting. The whole bean coffees are sold online either in single 12-ounce bags or via a subscription service where consumers choose the frequency of their shipments so they’re never without their beans.
Marea’s motto, “Enjoy your ritual,” has intentional multiple meanings. Of course, coffee is a morning ritual for millions of people worldwide, but for these coffee entrepreneurs, their love of surfing is also an overarching theme and ritual in their own lives. So, to the core of the business — the coffee — the brand’s vision adds a lifestyle angle. Marea’s leadership team includes several high-profile names from the surfing and skating world, including professional athletes Rob Machado and Danny Way, renowned photographer Todd Glaser, and filmmaker Taylor Steele, who are not only brand ambassadors but also part owners of the business.
Behind the scenes, the Marea team prides itself on its personal relationships with its farmer partners, and emphasizes the importance of not just fair trade and sustainable practices, but securing farmers the most favorable pricing and taking an active role to ensure the availability of basic essential resources like clean water. “The future of coffee, in my mind, is that direct connection; giving people at origin more than they’ve gotten in the past,” says Bettinger.
“I don’t think we have any delusions that we can singlehandedly change the way this massive commodity is consumed,” adds Moser. “It’s just about being a responsible business owner, no matter what your industry is.”
The company has been essentially operating in stealth mode since its unofficial debut last year. “We made no announcements, so we could ensure that our technology was up to speed and ready for prime time, and we wanted to make sure we had that stability for supply to meet demand,” says Moser. Confident that everything is now in place, Marea’s official global brand launch is set for February 21 at Solana Beach’s Belly Up Tavern, where the team and ambassadors will be officially introduced. “We’re really excited for what this next year holds,” says Moser. mareacoffee.com Deanna Murphy
Photo by Vincent Knakal