Desert Sun Coffee Company: Making the World a Better Place

Durango has seen its fair share of coffee shops and roasteries. So, what makes Desert Sun Coffee Roasters any different from the others?

New owner Zachary Ray says it best, “At Desert Sun, we’re committed to relationships with our small-scale farmer partners. We work directly with them on environmental initiatives, supporting: regenerative-organic practices, reforestation projects, and tracking and rewarding carbon sequestration in their fields. This relationship-focused model guarantees the highest quality sustainable coffee on the market. We’re setting the bar higher for carbon responsibility and transparency in trade.”

The company is so committed to this mission that it is pursuing B Corporation status, which will give it a legal obligation to uphold its values for its stakeholders. Currently, Durango only has one B Corp; Desert Sun hopes to be the second.

As if that isn’t enough, Desert Sun intensely focuses on taking care of its customers and fulfilling their needs. Their goal is to give their end-buyers peace of mind knowing that everything has been taken care of. “We really value our customers a lot; we strive to provide phenomenal customer service (just ask anyone), accurate orders, and timely deliveries. This is all part of our bigger philosophy,” Zach says.

So, what does this have to do with the SBDC?

Zach has been working at Desert Sun for twelve years. As a first-generation college graduate, he took a job as a bean bagger shortly after he graduated. Through the years, he worked his way up. After a brief hiatus to work with the Shanta Foundation in Southeast Asia, Zach returned and took the position of general manager at the company. Soon he became part owner, and as of one month ago, he is now the full owner of Desert Sun Coffee Roasters.

“The SBDC’s Buying and Selling a Business Workshop was EXTREMELY helpful throughout the process. It taught me how to look at the business and showed me what pieces needed to be put together. They put me directly in touch with a consultant who helped review my business plan. In the end, the bank was enthusiastic about what was put together, which made all the difference,” Zach says.

Zach is honored to lead a team of dedicated employees. Desert Sun is Thrive certified, and most of his staff have been with the company for years. “People love the work. Desert Sun is value-based, and they come to work because of this. I am very grateful for a team who believes in what we’re up to, wants to be here, and participates in our mission.”

Being in one of the world’s most competitive industries, however, is not without its challenges. As a manufacturer, Desert Sun’s growth comes from outside the region. Zach and his team continually have to ask themselves, “How do we get people who aren’t from here to identify with our brand?”

Another challenge that the company faces is well-known by local manufacturers—how do they make their large vision happen in a small, remote town? Try getting coffee shipped here. It’s not easy!

If you’re thinking about starting a business, Zach would tell you, “Don’t get into this industry. Coffee is the #2 commodity on the planet; it’s crazy competitive. But, if you are thinking of buying a business, attend the SBDC’s Buying and Selling a Business Workshop. It was so instrumental in helping me understand the logistical process we would undergo to make it happen. Then, find a small bank. We were fortunate to work with a great local bank—and all of that happened because of the SBDC.”

Zach’s door is always open if you want to chat. He believes that having people join the conversation pushes the industry higher. “It’s really about walking the walk. How do we engage people and challenge the industry? How do we become leaders for responsible business? How do we be that example? If we’re going to change lives, let’s do it collectively—because at the end of the day, we exist to make the world a better place.”

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