A Sit Down with Phil from Sandhill Coffee

I had the chance to visit with Phil Wingo of Sandhill Coffee a few weeks ago and shoot some photos of him turning raw beans in to the juice that gets me going every morning.  

It was great and I enjoyed getting to learn more about him and his new beans, including seeing and learning about the roasting process, in the place where he got started.  Personally, I really enjoy understanding the “how” of where the things I enjoy, come from.  Hope you do as well!

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Phil gave me a short write up of where Sandhill came from, and a bit more about his company.  

Why coffee?

Let me back track a bit, to give some insight as to what lead to this decision and how I’ve gotten to where I am today.

In early 2017, with my contract position coming to an end, I found myself panicking, trying to identify my next move.  Even as I applied and landed interviews, I found little working out. Needing to load up my fly boxes and catch up with old friends, I swung by DuPage Fly and walked out with a new job.  What’s better than getting to talk fly fishing every day?

I realized I hate grown frustrated with the job search, with multiple interviews and nothing to show for it.  All this got me thinking – I had always wanted to start my own business, but didn’t know how to make them happen.  I’d write things down, but nothing really materialized.  Now having a job to fall back on, I had the opportunity.  

Some previous ideas were, while on a big liquor kick, I dug in and did all the research to learn what it would take to start my own distillery.  Scratched that idea, way too much capital is needed upfront. Thinking of the outdoors, portable energy! Small solar panels for outdoors people to take camping with them. Smart idea but this is a one and done product, people buy this once and likely will not rebuy.

Jump to the hospital where my wife and I are welcoming our first son. As I’m making coffee runs to the café downstairs, that’s where it hits me - I need to investigate this world of coffee.  Thinking about how it fit in to my life, maybe not a daily habit, but seemed to always be present at the best times.  I started to think of fishing trips - first person awake starts the coffee. Or once we were awake enough, we stopped at the closest pace to grab coffee on the way to start our day. When I worked on a charter boat, we always started some coffee for the customers. When camping, I always brought some coffee with me. When you meet someone for work, ask if they want to grab a cup of coffee. I started seeing all the connections and realized it’s a way so many people connect. I thought this might be a good idea to go after, and starting doing the research on how to make it happen. 

Now I needed a name and a logo.  All of my hobbies are outdoors, so it seemed easy to make a connection to that. I needed something that outdoors people can relate to no matter their hobby, and a bird came to mind. Anyone can relate to a bird who enjoys being outside. However, my wife gets the credit for the crane.

With my brand I am promoting sustainability and the outdoors. Many of the outdoor brands that I have been purchasing have been doing this. Making clothes from repurposed fabrics. Making gear material from repurposed commercial products. For me, it seemed like an easy connection to make. The fun part now is putting this model into practice in this industry I’ve decided to join. I looked from start to finish, starting with the farms I purchase beans from, all the way to the end user. I looked to see what farms were doing to be sustainable. For the customer, using compostable products. My bags are compostable as well as cups to serve coffee in.

Where do I see this going? I hope to be the coffee brand you think of for your next trip outdoors. Whether its chasing fish for a weekend or backpacking a long trail, I want to be your sustainable coffee choice.

Thanks for having me on here Brad!