Drexel alumni open ‘Legendary Coffee’ business | The Triangle
Features

Drexel alumni open ‘Legendary Coffee’ business

Two Drexel University alumni, Matt Campana and Ron Connolly, have teamed up to form Legendary Coffee, a company focused on developing the best possible coffee by using science to help the roasting process bring out the natural flavor of every bean.

Campana, 2011 Drexel graduate with a degree in music industry, decided to team up with his old friend Connolly, 1991 graduate with a chemical engineering degree, when both realized that their passion for coffee could be combined with their passion for creating businesses.

Campana, now a Fortune 500 systems analyst, a composer and arranger for Grammy- and Emmy -award-winning producers, shared that he has developed a deep appreciation for coffee in his busy life and wanted good-tasting, quality coffee to keep him going. Connolly is a founder and leader of Frontage Laboratories Inc., a pharmaceutical company that helps get young pharmaceutical labs off the ground.

Using the chemical and engineering skills Connolly obtained through his Drexel education and his career at Frontage, the pair use their combined knowledge “in order to observe how roasting occurs from a scientific standpoint,” according to Campana.

He added: “We do testing with different crops and batches of beans … [and] observe certain parameters of the roasting process and track the differences in each roast so that we can better control the process and create a more flavorful and accurate roast time after time.”

This insight on the delicate treatment of coffee beans came from Connolly’s experience with the pharmaceutical process. The key components of both the pharmaceutical process and the coffee treatment process, according to Campana, are “quality of raw materials, consistency of the process and [the] ability to control the critical process parameters that impact the final quality.” It is with this fine attention to detail and process that Legendary Coffee produces its roasts.

When asked about the future of the company, Campana disclosed that there would definitely be a release of many more roasts, after new bean sources are found and potential new roasts have been put through a demanding series of tests and observations to optimize the final results. However, there will be no physical storefront to boast the company’s wares. “We want to bring the product to people and we [offer] shipping online to individuals and businesses. … We want to partner with what the community is already doing at events [and] festivals, and plan to have a mobile rig to bring coffee to students during finals week,” Campana said.

The idea is to make Legendary Coffee a company that serves the community at large — this is more effectively achieved with the ability to reach all people, through Internet availability and travel, rather than offering set locations. With that ideal comes a promise from Campana himself, conveyed on the website: each bag of coffee that is bought is roasted, packaged and shipped within 48 hours of purchase, to ensure maximum freshness for consumers.

Still relatively small, Legendary Coffee is quickly growing with the release of its first roast to public sale online, the Luna Roast. Sold at $11.99 per 12-ounce bag, and bundled with a free MP3 download of some of Campana’s musical work, the Luna roast went through a vigorous six-month testing and experimental period before being deemed ready for sale. The Luna is a single origin coffee, whose beans are sourced from Ketiara Cooperative. Ketiara, based in Indonesia, is a company led entirely by women and is responsible for over $48 million worth of action in various social services, including education, health care and clean water. The choice to source beans from places like the Ketiara Cooperative reflects the founders’ high standards of gender equality, organic agriculture and fair-trade practices.

According to Campana, the mission statement of Legendary Coffee is “to develop communities and help others to be successful … [and to] build Legendary to a point where we are helping others, including those who are less fortunate in society, to be successful in achieving their life dreams and goals by launching other ‘Legendary’ business ventures and incorporating people in their sectors.” Legendary Coffee is built on the idea that “fresh” wins out over genetically engineered or non-organic beans, and that helping others is essential to developing the community at large.