From London to Kabul, husband and wife team Catherine Bieri and Ron Reddick spent decades travelling the world while working in the telecom industry. After returning full-time to their home in Brewster, they applied their business expertise to create three fins coffee roasters and mercantile at 581 Main St. in West Dennis. Now they’re helping other organizations through the economic slow-down caused by the coronavirus.
In April, Bieri and Reddick launched Grounds for Good, a program that allows customers to support local nonprofits and businesses negatively impacted by the virus. When customers buy a bag of specially labelled house-blend coffee, the organization on the label receives 50 percent of the sales price.
The program has raised thousands of dollars for beneficiaries that include the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, The Bashful Tarte Bakery in South Yarmouth, CrossFit Hyannis, CrossFit Nauset and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
Another beneficiary of the program is the Inn on Main Street in Yarmouth Port. The inn was chosen because it hosts first responders during the pandemic.
Those participating organizations can also direct members of their communities to the three fins website, or to the store itself, to order the coffee. That helps three fins gain exposure and allows them to keep their coffee roaster in operation.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” says Bieri.
“We’re grateful for businesses like three fins taking the initiative to assist organizations like ours during such a critical time,” says Julie Wake, executive director of the Arts Foundation. “It’s especially important for our local artists and cultural nonprofits, both of which could be devastated by the economic fallout of the pandemic.”
The idea for three fins coffee came while Reddick was working for a telecom company in Ghana. After 15 years traveling through Africa and Europe, he and Bieri decided to do something different.
“We loved the coffee house experience in the countries we visited. We missed that when we came back to the U.S.,” he explains. They decided to start a coffee shop where people could meet with friends, read the paper, have a book club, and enjoy a good cup of coffee. They opened three fins in 2017.
Reddick, who loves to cook and bake, took a course from the Specialty Coffee Association in Chicago and became a specialty roaster.
“People liked what he produced!” says Bieri.
To succeed year-round, three fins is more than simply a coffee shop. They also do their own roasting. By roasting themselves, they can produce coffee more affordably. Being a manufacturer allows them to have a business that’s not seasonal, because they market their beans to the South Shore and Boston.
The name “three fins” has to do with surf boards, and surfing, a sport Reddick took up while in Ghana. As a native of California, Bieri was already well-acquainted with the sport and often attended surf contests. They chose the name because it’s related to the ocean and thus Cape Cod.
“It doesn’t have to do with the other things that have fins,” jokes Reddick.
Three fins’ wholesale business makes up about 30 percent of the company’s sales, the rest comes from four retail locations. In addition to the Dennis coffee shop, three fins has a private barista service located in three office buildings in Cambridge. Three fins employs eight people, increasing to 18 in the summer.
Bieri and Reddick say doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, the supply chain has been squeezed, and costs have increased. Visitors to three fins pick up their coffee and go, and luckily there’s not an issue with social distancing, as the shop is very spacious.
“So far we’re dealing with it, but it does make it interesting,” says Reddick.
Their advice for other entrepreneurs on Cape Cod?
“You really have to work out your business plan for how to survive through the winter. Many people don’t understand the seasonality,” says Reddick.
In addition, he says “it’s got to be something unique. If you want to have a very successful business you have to have a niche, and stress quality, quality, quality.”
Good customer service is essential, he says. That’s a lesson he learned in the telecom industry. “It’s much easier to keep a customer than to acquire a new one once you’ve lost them.”
Bieri says it’s also very important to be involved with the community. That philosophy inspired Grounds for Good.
“We’re doing this because it is important to give back to the community. We don’t want to see anybody lose their business because of this. Whatever we can do to help, we will do,” she says.
“When this all starts to settle, we don’t want to see the community or the Cape change,” says Bieri. “We don’t want to see any empty buildings down our Main Street. We want to see businesses come back. We want to see theaters come back. And we want to see art galleries and museums come back.”
For more information about three fins coffee roasters call 508-619-3372 or visit www.threefinscoffee.com