Tattered Beans Coffee: Raise Your Mugs To Our Military
What’s it like running one of the unique businesses in the world? Jason Jean, the founder of Tattered Beans, gave an exclusive interview to discuss his company, the mission, and what makes Tattered Beans stand out from the crowd.
Q: What is Tattered Beans?
JJ: Tattered Beans is a veteran-owned coffee company with a unique mission to give cash directly back to veterans, active duty military, and first responders. Through the sale of our coffee, a percentage of each item is directly given to the veteran, active duty military member, or first responder chosen by our customers on our website.
Q: What is your company’s mission?
JJ: The Tattered Beans mission is simple: to give cash back directly to veterans, active duty members, and first responders, with no go-between.
Q: Your customers choose an actual person that gets a portion of each sale?
JJ: Correct! When you first log onto the website, you have to select a profile to shop under. That profile is an actual veteran, active duty military member, or first responder. If you don’t know one in particular but still want good coffee, you can select a military or first responder branch. I know how important good coffee is and want everyone to be able to participate in our mission.
Q: How do these veterans, active duty, and first responders get the money?
JJ: Each month, Tattered Beans takes all the items sold and writes checks to the person shopped under. For example, our 12-ounce retail bag of coffee sells for $12 online, and $4 of that goes right to the profile selected. When a customer chooses a branch instead of a person, Tattered Beans tallies up the amount under each branch and divides it between the profiles associated with that branch that had no donations that month. Every time Tattered Beans sends a checkout or online transfers the money, we send a letter stating what was sold under that person, so they know how they got the amount back.
Q: Tell me about the profiles and how to get one.
JJ: The profiles are straightforward to complete. Veterans should have their DD-214 form to submit. If you’re missing it, it’s not a big deal. We have the option to check a statement acknowledging that you aren’t stealing valor and that you were honorably discharged. Active duty military members and first responders need to make sure their name and rank are covered in any picture submitted.
When you’re creating the profile and entering in your info, there are several direct donation options. The most popular one is to use the money yourself, for whatever reason, and this is the original concept of Tattered Beans. However, we know not everyone needs the money or wants to admit that they do, so we also offer two other options. First, you can donate the money to another veteran, active duty member, or first responder that you know who does need the money. Second, you can donate the funds to an organization or foundation that you support or one that Tattered Beans support. Even if you don’t take your funds, we’ll still send you a letter letting you know what and how much was bought under your profile.
Q: What happens after the profile is created?
JJ: Within 24 hours of the profile being completed, a unique link to your profile is generated and emailed to you. You’re welcome to share the profile on social media, your website or blog.
Q: Isn’t that close to a multi-level marketing type system?
JJ: It’s funny that you bring up that comparison! Tattered Beans does offer a way to increase income or create a secondary income stream, but we are not a multi-level marketing company. With multi-level marketing companies, you’ve got to put money up front, then sell so much per month to stay active, and purchase a certain amount of product to keep on hand. Haven’t our veterans, active duty military, and first responders given enough already for us? Tattered Beans is creating small business entrepreneurs out of the profiles listed on our site, but they never have to spend a single penny or keep any coffee at their house. The profiles are entirely free to create, and we don’t care if you sell $0 of coffee per month or $2,000.
Q: You mentioned before that Tattered Beans is veteran owned. Can you tell me about your time in the service and what you did?
JJ: I was in the Air Force, stationed at Malmstrom AFB in Montana. I worked on Missile Security. I loved everything about the military and wished I had been able to be in longer. Unfortunately, a bad knee injury ended my lifer dreams after about eighteen months. In boot camp, I was the dorm chief. We had flights (classes), and you had to pass the mile run test. So you had 13-minute mile, and this one guy had failed out of two previous flights before mine came up. I talked to all the guys in my flight, and we reorganized to stick with this guy.
We all failed, and ultimately the guy did wash out during boot camp, but at least we all tried together. Although not happy at first about organizing my flight the way I did, I ultimately got a letter stating how that demonstrated strong leadership skills. After boot camp, I went to a tech school, where I was Red Rope. The Air Force instilled some great values in me, and I’m thankful I got even a small opportunity to experience it.
Q: When did you start Tattered Beans?
JJ: The concept behind Tattered Beans started in 2018. I was diagnosed with cancer & had already had a successful fundraising coffee line, so we rebranded that into Tattered Beans. I had to finalize our mission, and how much cash we could give directly back to veterans, so Tattered Beans was officially launched in the fourth quarter of 2018 with tatteredbeans.com. Shortly after the launch, I added active duty military and first responders to benefit from our mission.
Q: You’ve said in podcasts that you get frustrated with a business that tout themselves as veteran-owned businesses, or that say they cater toward veterans. What can you share about why you tend to feel this way? How are you different?
JJ: I respect entrepreneurial spirits and back those who have served that have taken the step to become business owners. My frustration comes when people try to get rich off the backs of veterans with a false narrative that involves much red tape before an actual veteran ever sees the benefits. There’s a sign in our office: Money talks, BS walks. When I launched Tattered Beans, I knew our mission of giving MONEY directly to veterans, active duty military, and first responders would help. Unless I’m wrong, the electric company or local gas station doesn’t take a bag of coffee or t-shirt for payment. Don’t get us wrong, everyone loves free stuff, and it’s great that companies do that, especially when it’s veteran or military driven. Our mission is just different, maybe even a bit more grounded.
Q: What is one major goal for your business? How will you measure your success?
JJ: My goal is to sell one million bags of coffee by the end of 2019. When we hit that goal, that will translate to approximately $4 million going directly back to veterans, active duty military, and first responders. The end game is to make a difference in their lives, to show them there are still people out there who care about them. If we can make one individual in these lines of work feel that someone cares about them, that’s successful in our book.
If we cross paths a few years down the road, I’ll be looking back saying, Tattered Beans is successful because our mission led us to fulfill our goal, made the company flourish, and showed veterans, active duty military, and first responders that there are still caring people out there.
Q: How can I buy your coffee?
JJ: Great question! You can go to our website, choose a veteran, active duty member, first responder, or military branch, then select our great coffee. We’ll take care of the portion going to your specific profile selection, and you can feel good about making a difference in veterans, active duty military, and first responders’ lives when you enjoy your hot (or cold) cup of Tattered Beans coffee.