Concord-based S&D Coffee and Tea wants more people to know the backstory behind their morning cup of joe.
The nation’s largest custom coffee roaster is sponsoring “The Birth of Coffee,” a photography exhibit that opened Tuesday at Discovery Place in uptown Charlotte.
With 40 coffee-tinted images of people and places across four continents – including stops in Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Brazil and elsewhere – the exhibit traces the story of coffee from how it grows to how it gets in your cup. The traveling showcase is based on a book of the same name by author Linda Rice Lorenzetti and photographer Daniel Lorenzetti.
The Lorenzettis approached S&D about bringing the exhibit to Charlotte, according to John Buckner, S&D’s director of marketing.
The company liked the showcase’s celebration of growers and harvesters, and exporters and importers.
“It is an artisan craft throughout the world,” Buckner said, “...working in the fields and interacting with the elements. And it is beautiful.”
Its sponsorship also marks an unusual step for the privately held producer of coffees, teas and extracts, which doesn’t do much promotion. With clients that range from McDonald’s to Dunkin’ Donuts to Harris Teeter, the 85-year-old company long has preferred for its customers to take center stage, Buckner said.
Now, though, S&D says it’s looking to take a more active role in the community.
“We’re going to pick selective opportunities to tell our story,” Buckner said.
All this coincides with a recent name change, adding “and Tea” to reflect tea’s growing importance in its lineup.
Also announced recently: plans to invest millions in renovations and growth, including an expansion site.
“Our goal is to be a billion-dollar company in the next few years,” Chairman and CEO Ron Hinson told the Observer in August.
S&D has two production facilities and one fulfillment center in Cabarrus County, and it has warehouse and distribution centers in 38 states. It serves more than 80,000 customers. About 500 of the company’s 1,000 employees are local.
This is the showcase’s first stop at a hands-on science museum, according to the creators. Other stops have included libraries, botanical gardens and traditional museums.
“There are so many things that we eat and drink every day, and we don’t know where it comes from,” photographer Daniel Lorenzetti said.
“As an artist, there’s nothing more beautiful (to me) than your knowing where that cup of coffee came from.”