In 2016, Matt Bishop purchased a pack mule (Richard) to fulfill a vision, and within five short years, he managed to turn his pastime of serving free coffee to outdoor enthusiasts exploring the Boise Foothills into a profitable business.
“I had this idea that if I served coffee in the foothills, people would really enjoy having a bit of outdoor adventure getting to us, and it would build a sense of community on the trails,” Bishop said. And Café Mulé was born.
Then, in 2018, Bishop teamed up with experienced coffee roaster Colin Seeley, of Ironside Roasting Co. This merger launched Iron Mule Inc., a Boise-based business with increasing coffee sales of roasted and cold brew brands via wholesale, grocery and direct-to-consumer channels.
Aiming to disrupt the global coffee supply chain, Iron Mule invested $540,000 it received from local backers in 2021 to launch its “Direct Access” coffee brand. “Our goal is to be the most profitable way for small coffee farmers to get their coffee to market and provide a really authentic experience to coffee drinkers in the process,” said Bishop.
Iron Mule enables farmers to maintain an ownership stake in the coffee they grow, cuts out unnecessary middlemen from the supply chain and manages roasting, packaging and sales — all resulting in much higher profits for small farmers. The Direct Access brand has secured placement with Sprouts Farmers Markets around the country, Kroger in the Pacific Northwest and is working to expand its presence with other major retailers.