Vermont Coffee Company sold to Stonewall Kitchen

By Emily Hogan

Public Domain
Vermont Coffee Company serves certified organic arabica coffee from Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, Indonesia, and Mexico.

Vermont Coffee Company, supplier of coffee to the college, is being sold to Stonewall Kitchen, a large specialty-food company based in Maine. It currently operates a cafe in downtown Middlebury and has product distributors throughout the Northeast. 

Middlebury resident Paul Ralston established the coffee company in 2001. He has been looking to sell Vermont Coffee Company for the past three years and has been committed to putting together a  succession team to manage the company before he fully retires. 

Ralston plans to stay with the company throughout the company’s adjustment to the new management. Over the past year and a half, he has trained and integrated two senior management hires into Vermont Coffee Company to ensure he will be leaving the business in good hands. 

Stonewall Kitchen leadership cited Vermont Coffee Company’s prioritization of sustainable business practices over the past few years as one of the reasons behind its acquisition. In April 2018, Vermont Coffee Company became the first roaster in the United States to exclusively use renewable biogas as its energy source to roast its coffee.

“The Vermont Coffee Company products are sustainably sourced, 100% organic and — most importantly — make a delicious cup of coffee. We believe these deeply rooted values and commitment to quality make Vermont Coffee Company the perfect addition to our family,” said Stonewall CEO John Stiker in an interview with the Addison Independent. 

Ralston is hopeful that selling to Stonewall Kitchen will benefit the Middlebury community as well as the town’s economy.

We’re going to be busy and growing; there’s no question about it. And we’re going to be hiring,” Ralston said. Stonewall plans on opening a new, larger cafe in downtown Middlebury. 

As a leader in the world of organic coffee roasting with a large potential to grow in popularity over the next decade, Vermont Coffee Company garnered a number of offers in addition to Stonewall’s, according to Ralston. However, the sale to Stonewall was an easy decision.

Vermont Coffee Company is going to have access to a lot more resources and a much bigger distribution network,” Ralston said to the Addison Independent. 

The current Vermont Coffee Company cafe in downtown Middlebury is temporarily closed. Ralston’s primary role for the upcoming months is to develop the new cafe in a location yet to be determined, which he is hopeful will open in the fall of 2021.