Twitter is blowing up in the wake of a post on Esquire magazine's website, written by coffee importer and critic Todd Carmichael, alleging that Stumptown Coffee Roasters has been sold "to the highest bidder."
"So what will become of culinary coffee's nemesis, Stumptown, now that it's a big-money "brand" — even if its founder does remain as frontman?" Carmichael wrote. "Will it continue its role as the leader of all that is hip? If the past is any indication, there's no hope. Chances are, it will be another in a long history of promising roasters sold and promptly suffocated by corporate America, like Torrefazione Italia, Seattle's Best, and Green Mountain, to name just a few."
Carmichael does not say what person or corporation allegedly purchased the 11-year-old Portland coffee company, cite any sources for the news or give any useful hints. Carmichael is a longtime critic of the specialty coffee industry.
There may be a clue in Stumptown's most recent corporate filing. On April 28, Stumptown Coffee Corp., a foreign business corporation (that is, a business based outside of the state of Oregon), filed an "application for authority." Stumptown Coffee Corp is a distinct entity from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the Oregon corporation registered to the company's founder, Duane Sorenson, since 2000. It lists as its president and secretary Alexander S Panos, with the address of Stumptown's headquarters on Southeast Division Street.
Panos is a managing director of TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity firm with investments in Vitamin Water and Voss of Norway, among many other companies.
On April 27, Stumptown Coffee Corp. filed an application to assume ownership of the liquor license of the Stumptown cafe at 128 SW 3rd Ave. (A PDF of the application is available.)
Stumptown's director of operations, Matt Lounsbury, has been unavailable for comment.