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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Coffee Crusader
Nathan Westwick, Marshall '97

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With a background in math and engineering, and after 11 years teaching high school math, Nathan Westwick, Marshall '97, decided he wanted to do something different. Five years ago, he launched Wild Goose Coffee and began selling fresh-roasted coffee at farmers markets in Redlands, Calif. The company has since expanded and moved to a larger roasting facility, allowing for distribution to cafés near and far. The Wild Goose team is small with a total of five employees. Currently, Westwick is in charge of business expansion, while his brother runs production and roasting.

While specialty roasters have been on the rise, Westwick's approach to roasting is somewhat different. With an interest in both coffee and philanthropy, Westwick created a model of "coffee philanthropy"—for every pound of coffee Wild Goose sells, the company donates 10 pounds of food to the café's neighborhood food bank (on behalf of the café). Consequently, when customers purchase Wild Goose coffee, they are giving back on both a farm level and local level. Westwick re-enforces the company's mission, stating, "I'd like to think that we open people's eyes to the needs in their own community, and how they can play a role everyday through something as simple as buying a cup of Wild Goose coffee at their local café."

Westwick believes his time at UC San Diego prepared him for the rigor of running his own business. His math and engineering background help with the roasting, which involves all kinds of thermodynamic heat-transfer processes.

Wild Goose measures their success by the amount of food they donate. In the past year, the company has donated over 100,000 pounds to local food banks. With plans to grow their network of cafés and food banks, Wild Goose hopes to expand importing coffee in order to help provide other roasters with high-quality, relationship-driven coffee. However, at the end of the day, Westwick keeps it simple—"'Our Coffee Helps People'.…It's a business model that I feel privileged to take part in. Everybody benefits."

—Alex Morales