Building A Stronger D.C. Food Ecosystem

Five-part series on building a stronger D.C. food ecosystem and building strong food businesses in the nation’s capital, originally published by Union Kitchen as part of their Startup Stories in collaboration with Compass Coffee

1: Building a Stronger D.C. Food Ecosystem

“We will dive into the Union Kitchen distribution network to talk with Compass Director of Corporate Development, Kuran Malhotra, about how Compass scaled through Union Kitchen’s network of grocers and went from selling a few tins of coffee to becoming a well-known brand with numerous product lines and significant shelf space.”

2: From Kitchen to Brewery: Syrup with Spice

“It was really exciting to see how quickly we were able to scale Simple Syrups,” Malhotra notes. “The team has managed to perfect the brewing process and automate it, all without sacrificing the Real Good quality and natural ingredients, and all right here in the heart of D.C.”

3: Build Your City: The Race Against COVID

“Within a matter of weeks, we went from thinking about coffee, tea, and pastries, to tracking a shipment on a cargo tanker of isopropyl alcohol and figuring out how we’d even begin to price a product we’d never made before in a space we’d never been in,” Malhotra remarks. “It was challenging, exciting, and incredibly fulfilling to know that what we were doing was having a direct impact on people around D.C., in a time of need and stress.” 

4: The Product Development Pipeline

“Our products aren’t created in a vacuum,” says Compass Coffee Director of Corporate Development, Kuran Malhotra. “We rigorously test and retest every single product to make sure that it’s what our customers want and expect from us.” 

5: Compass + Union Kitchen: A Springboard for the Growing D.C. Food Scene

“It’s really fulfilling,” says Malhotra. “Whether its at our Georgetown café, online, or at a Union Kitchen store, I always love seeing the brands we’ve partnered with, and it’s great to know that we played a small role in helping them grow and become super successful companies that are also elevating the D.C. food scene, and making D.C. into a well-known and respected hub for food innovation and exploration.” 

About Compass Coffee

Compass Coffee is D.C.’s favorite coffee company. We are a classic American coffee brand founded in 2014 by two Marine Infantry officers obsessed with quality, speed, and friendliness. We operate twelve, world-class coffee shops that elevate the coffee experience while making it mass-market approachable through easy-to-pronounce drink names and fun seasonal flavors. The brand is built to scale through new coffee shops and consumer packaged goods — with years of careful attention to training programs and manufacturing expertise.

About Union Kitchen

Union Kitchen is a food and beverage business accelerator in Washington, DC. We build CPG brands through our manufacturing infrastructure which includes our commercial Kitchen, Stores, and Distribution. Since starting in 2012, we’ve worked with over 650 food businesses, including DC favorites Compass Coffee, Snacklins, Eat Pizza, and Mas Panadas.

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