You could say that Michael Rideout and Taylor Prater have got it made. When they started in 2015, they were delivering their cold-brewed coffee by bicycle, serving it at local events from a keg hooked up to the back of the bike. This week, their new canned Made con leche coffees started selling in Publix stores, and their products will be in every Publix in Florida by Oct. 1.
"It’s been a little crazy," Rideout said Tuesday. "We have a freight company that picks up from us — it’s cold shipped, under 40 degrees — and they take it to distribution centers in Lakeland, Deerfield, Jacksonville and Orlando."
For a small local company that got its start selling coffee at Bodega in St. Petersburg, this represents a massive scaling up. In order to fulfill initial orders, they’ve had to hire more people and bring in additional equipment. The couple just signed a lease for a 12,000-square-foot facility in Clearwater to be operational by the first of the year.
MORE ON MADE: How the coffee company got its start in St. Petersburg
Made will now offer five different items in the 831 Publix stores in Florida, split between the original cold brew line ($3.69) and the con leche line ($2.99) offered in 8-ounce cans, their cold brew with a hint of milk and cane sugar in chai, traditional and chocolate flavors.
In the past few years, small-batch, locally roasted coffee companies have proliferated in the Tampa Bay area. What makes Made different is the cans, which have a shelf life of 120 days. Rideout and Prater, who got their beverage beginnings as mixologists at the cocktail bar Mandarin Hide in St. Petersburg, said they are the first Florida company to put "flat" — as opposed to nitro — coffee in a can.
But it may not be precisely this that attracted Publix.
"Publix was the account that we wanted because it’s Florida based," Rideout said. "That was the goal. We felt we would be the perfect fit for them and we look at Publix as one of the large food chains that holds high standards."
Demographics may play into all of this as well. Prater said Publix was looking for Florida-based brands, ones that were fun and catered to a younger demographic. Publix, like every company these days, was chasing millennials.
"Do we cater to millennials? I think we do. The Made customer is people mostly 18 to 34 and the brand is more appealing slightly to women," Rideout said, adding that Prater, 32, who is a woman, controls the content and social media for the company. It stands to reason that her content resonates with that demographic.
For any small company, fulfilling orders for a giant like Publix is putting a lot of eggs in one grocery basket. But with Publix focusing more on showcasing regional products, and experts saying specialty coffee is embracing the convenience, grab-and-go phenomenon, Rideout and Prater may have Made the right choice.
Contact Laura Reiley at email@example.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.