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Eight years after becoming the first coffee roaster in Lakeland, Patriot Coffee is looking forward to what’s next and working to strengthen its brand identity.

Founder and owner Chris McArthur, who also owns Black & Brew Coffee House and Bistro, admits the journey hasn’t always been easy, especially navigating a pandemic and the explosive growth of the craft coffee industry.

“The challenge for craft coffee is that it’s difficult to differentiate,” he says. “Basically you’re really differentiating on brand and the relationship you have with your customers.”

He notes that part of the success of the Black & Brew restaurants is the positive relationships he and his team have built with customers, and he is working to develop ways to create similar rapport with Patriot customers, albeit from a distance.

“We build interactive content and social media, but the question remains, ‘How much relationship do people want with the people who are making their coffee?’ or do they really just want great coffee?”

Based on social media and online reviews, and his success getting on “Florida Local” end-caps in Publix stores around the state, Patriot seems to have the “great coffee” aspect covered.

Patriot currently offers 10 roasts that customers can order at patriotcraftcoffee.com or buy at a number of retailers.

“How much relationship do people want with the people who are making their coffee? or do they really just want great coffee?”

One way Patriot is working to energize its brand is through becoming the exclusive licensee of Color Theory Tea, a company started by Lakelander Jenna O’Brien. McArthur has aspirations of getting the tea out to market utilizing what he has learned with his coffee products.

“That seems to be a space where there’s more growth potential as a sub-brand of who we are,” he says.

McArthur, a veteran of the Marine Corps, is also eager to finalize a partnership that gets back to the roots of the company. Patriot will partner with Patriot Service Dogs, and a portion of the proceeds from specially-branded Patriot Coffee will support disabled veterans having access to service dogs free of charge. 

“They are doing some great things, and I think it connects really well with my initial vision to have a positive impact on that community,” he says.

When it comes to community — McArthur is not only an integral part of it, he is immensely appreciative of the support Lakelanders provide.

“Lakeland is home and it’s always been home,” he says. “I feel like if I had been in Tampa trying to open a coffee shop or roaster, I wouldn’t have been successful maybe…but here I can count on people and I feel like I know what they want.”

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