In late June, workers at Redlands, California’s Augie’s Coffee began the process of unionizing, but by the beginning of July, Augie’s closed all five locations and let go of a majority of their staff. In the announcement, Augie’s ownership cited the coronavirus and the associated health and safety concerns as the impetus for the mass closures. The nascent Augie’s Union, though, alleges that the store closings were textbook union-busting.
Since the announcement, the Augie’s Union has staged protests and even filed a lawsuit alleging $140,000 in wage theft; meanwhile, all Augie’s locations remain closed.
The switch from union to coffee roasting company happened in short order for Slow Bloom. On October 3rd, they were still holding pop-ups as Augie’s Union, but by the 7th, a complete rebrand took place, including a new website and social media presence (if you followed Augie’s Union on Instagram and wondered who Slow Bloom was the first time they came across your feed, now you know why). Since then, Slow Bloom has continued to host pop-ups under the new moniker and has released two coffees, the Equal Vision blend and a single origin from Yirgacheffe created in collaboration with The Reverse Orangutan. And with the Kickstarter, Slow Bloom Coffee is looking to kick things into high gear.
Asking for $20,000, the 100% worker-owned coffee cooperative plans to use the money to help defray costs associated with buying a roaster of their own, leasing a space, and finishing the build-out. With just over a month and a half remaining in the campaign, Slow Bloom has already passed the $16,000 mark from over 200 backers. But even still, there are a host of rewards left for would-be backers, including mugs, shirts, totes, coffee, beanies, to even a light roasting (the insult kind, not the coffee development kind) for all of Instagram to bear witness.