A Fresh Brewed Partnership to Conquer Kids’ Cancer. City Brew Coffee Launches New St. Baldrick’s Blend.

Proceeds from sales of the St. Baldrick’s Blend will help fund childhood cancer research

BOZEMAN, Mont. (August 16, 2011) – That morning cup of java helps kick start your day, but have you ever thought that a bag of coffee could help save a child’s life? City Brew Coffee, a Billings, Mont.-based coffee roaster, thinks just that and has proudly partnered with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in a “freshly brewed” endeavor to Conquer Kids’ Cancer! The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.

The new St. Baldrick’s Blend is available in five Special Edition labels, each featuring one of the five St. Baldrick’s Foundation 2011 Ambassador Kids who represent the startling reality that one in five kids diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive. For every online purchase of St. Baldrick’s Blend, $2.50 will go to the Foundation to support life-saving childhood cancer research.

“We are very excited about our partnership with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and believe it takes City Brew Coffee drinkers to help Conquer Kids’ Cancer!” says Jeff LaSeur, Chief Operating Officer of City Brew Coffee. “We encourage coffee drinkers to try the new blend. Not only will you love its rich flavor, but we hope you will take great satisfaction in knowing that you are making a difference in the life of a child with cancer.”

Each Special Edition bag features a custom front and back label, specific to each 2011 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Kid, showcasing a photo of the child, their current age and treatment status and a brief bio on their battle with cancer.

St. Baldrick’s 2011 Ambassador Kids include:

  • Julia, 17, California, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), in remission
  • Pietro, 12, Michigan, medulloblastoma, in remission
  • Shaun, 10, New Mexico, angiosarcoma, cancer free
  • Iana, 6, Wisconsin, Wilms tumor, cancer free
  • Arden, Pennsylvania, neuroblastoma, Nov. 12, 2004 – Aug. 30, 2008.

In this video exclusive, hear from Jeff LaSeur, chief operating officer, Dale Corcoran, roast master and Cherie Swanson, business development director of City Brew Coffee, on why joining the St. Baldrick’s mission to Conquer Kids’ Cancer is so important. For more information about the Blend or to place an order, visit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Shop.

About City Brew Coffee

City Brew Coffee was founded in 1998 in Billings, Montana. Our focus is one of becoming consistently recognized as an industry leader in both product quality and customer service. City Brew roasts more than 20 varieties of Arabica coffee grown throughout the world in its new 6,000-square-foot roasting facility. For more information about City Brew Coffee please call 866-880-2489 visit www.CityBrew.com.

About the St. Baldrick’s Foundation

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. The Foundation funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. St. Baldrick’s funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, a child’s best hope for a cure. Since the Foundation’s first grants as an independent charity in 2005, St. Baldrick’s has funded more than $76 million in childhood cancer research. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org.

IAFF Partners With City Brew Coffee

Firehouse Blend Coffee helps support IAFF Burn Foundation and local charities

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) announces a new partnership with City Brew Coffee Company to market and sell Firehouse Blend Coffee to support the IAFF Burn Foundation.

Roasted by City Brew Coffee Company in Billings, Montana, Firehouse Blend Coffee will be available through the IAFF online store, City Brew web site and in all City Brew stores and kiosks across the country. Proceeds from the sales of Firehouse Blend Coffee benefit the IAFF Burn Foundation.

In addition, the IAFF and City Brew have developed a unique fundraising initiative to help IAFF affiliates conduct fundraising programs through sales of Firehouse Blend Coffee products. City Brew will provide Firehouse Blend Coffee to IAFF affiliates at wholesale prices for resale at local fundraising events. IAFF affiliates keep all proceeds resulting from any fundraising programs to distribute to charitable causes in their own communities.

“This partnership provides a great opportunity to support our Burn Foundation and for our affiliates to raise funds to benefit worthy causes in their own cities and towns,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger.

Cherie Swanson from City Brew, who has been part of the development of the program from the beginning, says, “We are developing a great partnership with the IAFF and its affiliates. We have been working internally for over three years to bring this multifaceted program to the IAFF and its members. We are extremely excited about the future of our fundraising partnership and look forward to raising awareness and dollars for the IAFF Burn Foundation and IAFF affiliates.”

Billings, MT Local 521 members served as testers to develop the coffee blend and worked with Kinetic Marketing to design the Firehouse Blend Coffee logo. Billings fire fighters have already conducted their own Firehouse Blend Coffee fundraisers to benefit local charities, as well as the IAFF Burn Foundation.

Billings Local 521 President Dan Cotrell is excited about the program. “Our partnership with City Brew Coffee has been a great public relations tool and financial asset for Local 521,” he says. “Sales of Firehouse Blend Coffee have raised revenues for our charitable fund and increased public awareness of the IAFF Burn Foundation and our local’s involvement in causes that help our community.”

He adds, “And we get the added bonus of enjoying the best cup of coffee around.”

For more information, or to purchase Firehouse Blend Coffee, visit www.citybrew.com, contact Cherie Swanson at (406) 600.2677 or contact the IAFF Burn Foundation at (202) 824-8620.

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), headquartered in Washington, DC, represents more than 298,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics. More information is available at www.iaff.org.

The IAFF Burn Foundation, established by the IAFF, is dedicated to fire prevention and burn awareness education, advocacy, burn research and improving the quality of life for burn survivors.

City Brew Coffee was founded in 1998 in Billings, Montana. City Brew roasts more than 20 varieties of Arabica coffee grown throughout the world in its new 6,000-square-foot roasting facility.

Business solves unique problems with unique software

Tom Rupsis has developed two custom software programs for local businesses. City Brew regional director Abby Reno said one of Granite Peak's software programs has cut the hours she spends scheduling employees by three-fourths.

By JAN FALSTAD Of The Billings Gazette Staff | JAMES WOODCOCK/Gazette Staff

No worker whose job depends on a computer has escaped the frustration of crashes, or the ongoing curse of software that hails from a different planet than its developer promised.

Delivering what is promised and making the software easy to use appear to be the top reasons Tom Rupsis, who owns Granite Peak Systems in Billings, has successfully landed two local clients: the nonprofit Alternatives Inc., which tracks and treats prisoners at two pre-release centers, and City Brew Coffee.

City Brew regional manager Abby Reno said she used to spend 20 hours a week making sense of the faxes her 14 local managers sent her and scheduling 200 employees from Kalispell to Sheridan, Wyo. Now, she spends five hours max on scheduling, thanks to Rupsis’ software program called Schedappy.

“It’s incredibly user-friendly,” Reno said. “If you haven’t been a techie or gone to college, you can figure it out and everything is mostly double-checked, so you really can’t mess up.”

Each day, City Brew pays its workers, who earn $10 an hour on average, including taxes, for 400 hours of labor.

“That’s a lot of money every day and 15 minutes here and there matters,” Reno said.

Under the former paper-driven system, Reno would have to enter the data from the faxes into an Excel software program and manually check most of the numbers.

“It was just crazy. You might miss a time off request or somebody’s availability changed,” she said. “We’re only human.”

Reno said she cajoled Rupsis for five years to buy or write a software program.

“The best way is to buy software out of a box, but we couldn’t find any system that worked,” he said.

So, Rupsis used some down time last winter to build Schedappy and launched the program at City Brew in April. Rupsis currently charges $10 a month per location for the Web-based program with no long-term contract required.

The software has allowed Reno to dump her scheduling “black book” and more accurately track the complicated schedules of college students, who make up 70 percent of City Brew’s workforce.

The software program also centralized the ordering and sales systems.

No Geek Here

While working in suburban Chicago, Rupsis met his wife, Kim Rupsis, a Billings Skyview High graduate and they moved to Montana in 2004. Two years later, Rupsis started Granite Peak Systems, still a one-man shop.

He’s neither a programmer nor a network facilities guy. His specialties, honed working outside Chicago for McDonald’s Corp., are analyzing businesses and managing projects.

Rupsis’ first move is to study the business, determine its strengths and weaknesses and then design the software to improve efficiency. Then he hires software designers and programmers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, the Philippines, Bolivia, Gaza and Ukraine to grind out the computer language.

“I am probably the only one doing this in Billings,” he said.

In other words, he’s a techie translator mediating among the various, often feuding, parties.

“I can speak the differing languages of executives, end-users, and technical experts,” he said. “I built Schedappy using this approach.”

He also designed another custom software program for tracking prisoners.

Like managers at City Brew, supervisors at Alternatives Inc.’s pre-release program for male offenders in downtown Billings were still pushing paper to track hundreds of prisoners.

At the affiliated Passages Women’s Center on South 27th Street, managers were using computers. But Alternatives administrator Dave Armstrong said the program kept locking up, losing data or producing different answers to the same question.

The nonprofit has to track hundreds of functions from photos to parole dates, case notes to room searches, as well as pat downs and urinalysis for 350 Alternatives residents, plus another 1,500 offenders living outside the Montana State Prison.

So, Rupsis developed another software package to document and link up prisoners’ photos, criminal histories, medications, travel and treatment such as parenting or anger management classes.

“Tom Rupsis built us a much more stable, robust program capable of managing thousands of files and it’s very easy to get around in for staff members who aren’t computer savvy,” Armstrong said.

The new system was developed and deployed while Alternatives supervisors were using the old system — paper — to track male prisoners.

“He was able to put together this project and that is no small feat,” Armstrong said.

The software is working so well, Armstrong said he is trying to sell the program to the other five Montana pre-release centers and perhaps nationally.

“It’s not inexpensive to develop software and we want to share the costs of development with them,” he said.
Whether the other pre-release centers buy the program will depend largely to what happens to their budgets during the 2011 Montana Legislature, he said.

Marketing is his least effective skill, Rupsis admitted, so he is incorporating suggestions from a plan that marketing students at the University of Montana completed for him last month.

“I’ve been talking to Sysco (Food Services of Montana) and ran Google ads and picked up a restaurant in L.A., which was completely random,” he said.

The Montana Rib & Chop House at 1849 Majestic Lane started using Schedappy six months ago and then launched the program at Rio Sabinas, a Belgrade restaurant serving Southwestern grill cuisine.

John Uzlack, vice president of the 10-restaurant company, said the scheduling software also helps him compare labor costs to food sales. But some kinks remain.

“We’re testing it still. I call him (Rupsis) and say it would be great if we could do this and he does it. He’s been great to work with,” Uzlack said.

The program works for most retail businesses, but restaurants are naturals.

“Scheduling is just one of those things that is a pain for all restaurants, including keeping track of vacations and spring breaks,” Rupsis said. “It really sucks a lot of energy out of managers.”

To view this story at the Billings Gazette site, click here.

Coffee aids burn fund, scholarships

CBC News

Coffee is boosting caffeine levels and raising funds for a good cause in Winnipeg.

Firehouse Blend, a special brand from the Montana-based City Brew Coffee company, features a label with the image of a fire helmet nearing number 867 — the Winnipeg local for the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) union.

Proceeds from sales of the coffee go toward a fund that provides training for future firefighters.

The coffee is being sold locally by Lionel Crowther, a central Canada representative for the IAFF, and a Winnipeg firefighter who was injured in a 2007 blaze that claimed the lives of Capt. Harold Lessard and Capt. Tom Nichols.

Crowther was recently at U.S. burn camp for kids, as an IAFF representative, when City Brew approached him with the idea of selling the coffee. The company offered to provide the java at cost if a portion of the proceeds was donated to the IAFF Burn Foundation.

Crowther decided to take it on, bump the price up by $3 and direct the additional proceeds to the Lessard/Nichols Scholarship fund.

It was a scary proposition at first. Crowther had to pay about $5,000 for a pallet of coffee up front. It was close to Christmas and he wasn’t sure his Visa card could handle it.

One of his colleagues offered to split the cost of the pallet. Because they were the first in North America to take up City Brew on its offer, the company honoured them with the special label.

They loaded up Crowther’s wife’s Toyota Tercel and hit the firehalls in Winnipeg, selling more than 700 bags in a week and raising in excess of $2,000 for the scholarship fund.

He said firefighters were happy to contribute because of the good causes benefitting from the proceeds. The blaze that killed Lessard and Nichols hit particularly close to home, Crowther said.

Lessard, 55, and Nichols, 57, died from a flashover during an intense fire at a home on Place Gabrielle Roy, a cul-de-sac neighbourhood across from the French Quarter of St. Boniface.

The two men were among six firefighters trapped on the second floor of the home on Feb. 4, 2007, when they were struck by the huge fireball, which reached thousands of degrees Celsius within seconds.

Four other firefighters, including Crowther, were injured.

“It could have been any one of us but it was the two captains we lost,” he said. “Something like that can happen any day. Thank goodness it’s only been once in this last 80 years [in Winnipeg that a firefighter was killed on the job].”

The public can also purchase the Firehouse Blend by emailing firehousecoffee867@gmail.com.

Each 12-ounce bag sells for $10.

New building houses growing City Vineyard and City Brew


By Dave Burgess, Western Business

It’s harvest time for City Vineyard and City Brew, the businesses owned by Becky Reno. The planning and work of four years is bearing fruit as Reno takes her businesses to the next step.

They are moving from the leased space where they started in Billings at 2228 Grand Ave. to Reno’s newly constructed dual store on Grand Avenue at 17th Street West.

“We are just trying to realize the potential of our concept,” Reno said.

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Billings Gazette Reader’s Choice Choice Award goes to City Brew

The Billings Gazette

City Brew
5 locations
City Brew is growing, with 3 new kiosks and the upcoming opening of their new building at 17th and Grand. “We have the great resource of great people that allows us to do that,” Owner Becky Reno said of the growth. “They’re true champions. And in 2005 we rolled out our roasting program. We have two commercial roasters that are roasting wonderful coffee.” The new building will have a drive through, and City Vineyard will occupy a larger store in the new location as well, with lots of parking, she said. They rolled out a national licensed kiosk program. And will open stores next year in Missoula and Bozeman. “Everyone is thrilled and proud,” Reno added.

Making progress: City Brew, Vineyard moves to more spacious building


By DANA MOSS PULIS for The Gazette

Just in time for cooler weather and holiday dinners, the steaming coffee and chilled wine will pour at the nearly completed City Brew and City Vineyard on Grand Avenue and 17th St. West.

The move for the twin stores brings double the space and double the inventory to City Vineyard, while City Brew will grow from 1,400 square feet to 1,700 square feet. The distinct brick building on the corner features a drive-through window and parking for 50 off the crowded intersection.

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City Brew Has Sights Set on Missoula

By Courtney Lowery

Missoula coffee community is about to gain another member. The Billings-based City Brew Coffee chain is slated to start building its first Missoula store in 4-6 weeks in the ground level of a new building the corner of Orange and Broadway — drive-through window and all.

Owner Becky Reno says City Brew had been trying to break into Missoula for three years but had never quite found the right location.

“Missoula is a target market for us, always has been,” Reno says.

Once the Orange and Broadway store is up, Reno says City Brew will look for two other “bricks and mortar” locations and then branch out with three more kiosks in the greater Missoula area. The three-shop, three-kiosk per market business model is working well for City Brew, which opened its first store in Billings in 1998 and has since expanded to seven stores and a handful of kiosks (with plans for a total of 16) in Billings and the Flathead Valley.

City Brew just recently went national with its specialty coffees roasted in Billings and has quickly become a force to be reckoned with under Reno, who is no stranger to scrapping for national success. Reno’s started her first business, Video Library Inc., in 1980 with one store front in Billings. By the time she sold the business to Movie Gallery in 2003, the company included 15 retail stores in Montana and wholesale operations in 14 other states.

Even with all the rumblings about Starbucks coming to downtown Missoula, Reno is confident City Brew will do well here. She’s taken on the big national chains before — Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Hastings — so she knows just what to do.

“We have a concept that is well-suited in Missoula,” Reno says. “We’re very committed and we try to make a difference in our communities. People know we’re the real thing.”

City Brew Coffee Goes Nationwide

City Brew Coffee commenced operation in 1998 with our first retail location in Billings, Montana. Our company to more than 100 employees and includes seven brick and mortar locations, with two additional under construction. We recently added our second commercial roaster, which increased our roasting capacity to over 30,000 lbs. per month. This increased capacity has allowed us to engage our national sales campaign to all segments of the specialty coffee industry. Our third and fourth of sixteen scheduled double-drive-thru Kiosks are opening this month. The balance of the ninety-one projected kiosk openings in the next two years will come from the nationally marketed turnkey licensee program.