For Business

Merchant spotlight: Sunday Morning Coffee Company

Savannah Mitchell makes the case for why coffee lovers should take their coffee Black (owned).

Image of woman holding coffee mug next to a bag of Sunday Morning Coffee

When Savannah Mitchell left for college on a train to Washington, DC, she had never left her family before. Howard University, a prestigious historically Black university, would completely open up Savannah’s world. She was surrounded by unmatched Black excellence in DC.

“For the first time in my life, I was around all Black businesses and I saw Black people in stately homes with manicured lawns,” Savannah says. “There was so much greatness there that I had never seen before.”

College was also where she would find her calling in hospitality. Her first college job was serving gourmet coffee to the president of Howard University.

“I began to see the coffee ritual as a marker of culture and class,” Savannah says. Coffee became more than a beverage to her. It turned into a life-long passion. For the next 25 years, she would perfect her palette, traveling to regions in South America and the Caribbean to sample their coffee.

Savannah wouldn’t have the opportunity to turn her passion into a business until much later. That opportunity would come in 2020 when she was laid off during the pandemic. Savannah exited the 9-5 life, and Sunday Morning Coffee Company was born later that year.

“I felt like my life had been waiting on me to make this pivot,” she reflects. “For years, this was something that had been in my spirit to fulfill. I had the entrepreneurial vision, and now it was time to live it.”

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Delighting coffee lovers with fast, free delivery

Today, Savannah is using Buy with Prime to help grow her ecommerce coffee business by offering Prime members fast, free delivery, a seamless checkout experience, and easy returns. Additionally, using the Buy with Prime badge on her site has helped Savannah establish trust with her customers, a common challenge when building a new ecommerce brand.

Savannah found out about Buy with Prime through Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator program, which presented her with the opportunity to add the checkout option to her ecommerce site. Adding Buy with Prime allowed her to deliver products to customers at a speed that she couldn’t achieve previously. Now, she’s able to delight Prime members with a checkout and delivery experience that they love.

“We’re in a time when people really want quality products but they want them now—they don’t want to wait three weeks,” Savannah says. “Buy with Prime allowed us to offer fast, free delivery that we couldn’t offer on our own.”

She adds, “When I heard that I could engage Prime members on my website and help keep them coming back, it was an immediate ‘Yes’ for me. When shoppers see that Buy with Prime badge, they know the experience that they’re going to get. There’s less hesitation or doubt.”

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Building meaningful relationships with every cup

Although Sunday Morning Coffee has a robust presence on Amazon.com, Savannah knew that fostering her own ecommerce site would play an important role in her business growth strategy. Her ecommerce site acts as the central hub of her brand, where customers can come to find out more about Savannah, her coffee, and the brand’s philosophy.

“People like a story, so we use our website to tell our story,” she says. “We create content to engage our customers and keep them on our website.”

On the ecommerce site, Savannah has a blog, videos, and recipes meant to educate visitors about coffee and foster a community around her brand. She wants to keep the relationship going even after a customer makes their first purchase. With Buy with Prime, she’s able to retain customer information, like email addresses, to connect with customers after they place an order using Buy with Prime. She can use the order and contact information to remarket to them with exclusive discounts for holidays or birthdays or even first-purchase anniversaries.

“Coffee is a personal product, so being able to retain customer information has made a difference for us in fostering camaraderie with our customers and building relationships at an even greater level,” Savannah explains.

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Cultivating a passion for Sundays and self-care

Savannah chose the name Sunday Morning Coffee Company because of what Sunday mornings have always represented to her. “On a Sunday morning, everything in life just feels easy. I’m able to hit pause and just appreciate life,” she explains. “That’s the power of a Sunday morning coffee to me. It returns you to yourself.”

Although coffee is often seen as a way to speed up, Sunday Morning Coffee invites coffee lovers to slow down and take a moment for themselves with each sip. Savannah sees coffee as a form of self-care, a way to practice mindfulness.

Two of her best-selling blends, Tiah Maria, a full-bodied medium-dark roast, and 1967, an organic espresso blend, are part of her daily routine, she says. “These coffees are sourced from Columbia and Ethiopia, where the soil is rich and dynamic and yields outstanding coffee beans.”

Sunday morning coffee bag.

Reclaiming the legacy of Black coffee culture

The historical lines that can be drawn between the Black community and coffee are sharp and distinct. According to the National Coffee Association, coffee grown around the world today has origins going back hundreds of years to the ancient coffee forests in the highlands of Ethiopia, where goat herders discovered that berries from a certain tree helped them stay awake.

The first coffees that would make it to Europe and then North America were harvested by African slaves. Hundreds of years later, coffee is a multibillion-dollar industry, and coffee-drinking has become an indelible part of the social fabric of countries around the world.

The history of coffee is Black history. Despite this legacy, Black people are underrepresented as sellers of coffee and have the lowest rates of coffee consumption demographically, according to the National Coffee Data Trends Study. Savannah seeks to change that. On the ecommerce site is a Coffee 101 educational video where she teaches six different brewing methods, from French press to Chemex pour-over, for those who are new to coffee.

“I can’t tell you how many Black and Brown people I’ve met who have never tried coffee—coffee isn’t marketed to us,” she says. “There are few Black-owned coffee companies and even fewer Black women-owned ones.”

Breaking barriers for Black coffee entrepreneurs

As one of very few Black women in the industry, Savannah’s mission with Sunday Morning Coffee is twofold: to make the coffee-drinking culture more accessible to all people, and to end the gatekeeping that blocks Black professionals from entering the space.

“There’s a disparity in opportunity: Black businesses are undercapitalized and underfunded,” says Savannah, who had to pull from her retirement savings to launch Sunday Morning Coffee. “Even if you have a strong business plan, are you able to endure the time it takes to start seeing results? Black businesses often don’t have the cushion to wait 6–12 months to make a profit. That’s why many of them don’t survive.”

For other Black-owned businesses that are also encountering the challenges that she’s faced—and continues to face—her advice is for them to know the vision, collaborate with others, and remain steadfast through ups and downs.

She says, “Stay true to the vision. No matter how many times you hear ‘No,’ remember that each one gets you closer to the ‘Yes’ that will change everything. My personal approach is 3D—discipline, determination, and dedication.”

Scaling business and planning for the future

Logistics is an important piece of the puzzle for any ecommerce business. Figuring out the nitty gritty on how customers get their products can be a challenge to brands. One of the benefits of Buy with Prime is that it empowers merchants to pull orders from one pool of inventory. Businesses that use Fulfillment by Amazon or Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment are able to tap into existing inventory that’s already stored in Amazon fulfillment centers. This leads to operations that are more streamlined and more scalable.

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Fulfillment is a humungous part of our business because you have to get it right every time,” Savannah emphasizes. “Thanks to Buy with Prime, we’re able to maximize what we already have in place for Amazon.com sales. It makes it simpler for our customers, simpler for us. It also cuts down on costs—pennies are counted when you’re a startup.”

Savannah has also benefitted from Buy with Prime cart. With the cart feature, shoppers can purchase multiple products that offer Buy with Prime in one transaction, helping to boost sales and average order value. The Buy with Prime cart helps merchants optimize fulfillment costs and gather insights about which products shoppers tend to buy together.

“Because our customers can buy more than one bag at a time using Buy with Prime cart, orders can be larger, which is important because we’re scaling the business,” Savannah says.

She has plans to open her first brick-and-mortar in the DC area. Her 10-year goal is to open a branded chain of Sunday Morning Coffee bed and breakfasts that feature coffeehouses inside. She sees her coffee company as the first step to a hospitality empire. “If the dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough,” she proclaims.

Savannah feels blessed to live life as a Black woman entrepreneur. “Black businesses give Black communities the power to write their own narratives,” she says. “I love providing my community with opportunities to become great, and I love being able to do that with coffee.”

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BBA Stories
Anita Little