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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Investor Spotlight: Coffee Ambassador

December 8, 2015

This week, we sat down with Sean Curtis and Barbara Curtis Smalley of Coffee Ambassador, a family-owned office coffee service company based in San Diego.  Serving over 250,000 cups of coffee a day to businesses across the region, Coffee Ambassador keeps San Diego’s workforce well-charged in the comfort of their own offices.   

1) Please tell us what your company/organization does.

Founded by Bill and Vera Curtis in their Pacific Beach garage, Coffee Ambassador has kept the coffee brewing in San Diego breakrooms for 45 years. Now led by the brother and sister team of Sean Curtis and Barbara Curtis Smalley, the company has used its nearly five decades of experience in the office coffee industry and local business community to create modern coffee solutions for offices of any size.

With the rise in popularity of high-end cafes, today’s workers have raised their expectations of coffee, and those expectations have extended to the workplace. It’s not just about getting a quality brew, although that is a major component. They crave the café experience at work--the opportunity to reflect, connect, recharge, or brainstorm as they would at their favorite coffee shop. Coffee Ambassador creates these great tasting moments at local businesses, where 250,000 Coffee Ambassador cups are filled every day.

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?

San Diegans appreciate local quality. Quality weather, food, leisure—these are just some of the things that San Diegans love to enjoy. It’s no surprise then that they understand the value of both having a quality coffee experience at work and supporting a local, family-owned company that is committed to providing superior customer service.

In gratitude for the tremendous local support we have received, we have kept our focus solely on being the “office coffee experts” in San Diego County. Staying local and serving locally allows us to monitor developments in the international coffee industry but implement solutions with a unique understanding of coffee trends within San Diego. 

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Begun in 1989 as a small screenprinting shop in San Diego, Custom Logos has transformed into a leading national supplier of promotional products and branded apparel.  They still do their own screenprinting and embroidery in house at their Kearny Mesa headquarters, which allows them to closely monitor quality and provide a quick turnaround time. We are big fans of their high-standard products, not to mention their personal and professional customer interaction.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

We anticipate that companies will continue choose San Diego as a draw for high-quality workers and that a number of startups in incubators today will grow into large local presences in the next five years. As a company, we want to grow with them, supporting them from the beginning and then adapting to their changing needs. We also anticipate that as more Millennials join the workforce, the expectation of a better office coffee experience will become tied into quality of life at work. While the products or equipment may change over time, we hope to keep providing the same great tasting moments that our customers have come to expect and appreciate.