Death Wish Coffee Company CEO Mike Brown On Why It’s So Important For Companies To Pivot In Ways That Benefit The Community Right Now

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is arguably the biggest public health crisis to hit the United States (and the world) so far in the 21st century. At the time of writing, over 1.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and almost 66,000 have lost their lives to it.

Most states have put lockdown measures into place in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, and to help protect those most vulnerable from infection. At the same time, lockdowns are having a detrimental effect on the nation’s economy.

Much of the country’s service industry, for example – those working in places like coffee shops, hotels, restaurants – have effectively been laid-off by their employers. Although the federal government has offered financial help to some people, others still have no income.

Millions of out of work people have put in unemployment benefit claims but around 30% of applicants are facing delays or rejections due to changes in claims procedures.

A New York-based coffee roaster, The Death Wish Coffee Company, is itself affected by the “New York State on PAUSE” lockdown. Its CEO, Mike Brown, talks about the importance of companies like his helping their local communities during the COVID-19 crisis.

Why companies should help communities right now

Mike Brown started his business back in 2012. In those days, it was only a small coffee shop in Saratoga Springs, NY. Today, the Death Wish Coffee Company brand evolved into one of the leading names in the coffee world both in the United States and beyond.

In fact, they even sent some freeze-dried coffee to the International Space Station in 2018 to help fuel the crew of NASA Expedition 56! But when it comes to Earth-based matters, Mike feels that companies have a social responsibility for their local communities.

“I’ve tried to put myself in the customers’ shoes all the time,” explained Mike in a recent podcast interview. “Our number one [company] value is customer experience and enhancing value.”

Employers have a duty to support their local communities, especially as that’s where they typically hire people. Without those communities, businesses wouldn’t be as successful as they are today.

With that in mind, companies that are in a position to help should pivot what they do to assist employees affected by COVID-19.

“Broke but not Busted”

One way that The Death Wish Coffee Company is helping is by fundraising money to help service workers and service industry staff laid-off because of the lockdown in Saratoga County.

They’ve collaborated with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and an Albany-based tattoo parlor artist, Melanie Lucia-Clarke, to sell two T-shirt designs and fundraise $75,000 for affected service industry personnel and small businesses.

Their “Broke but not Busted” program features two T-shirt designs. One is inspired by a meme the coffee roaster posted on its social media pages and sports the words “When this is all over, please continue to stay at least 6 feet away from me” on a black T-shirt.

The other design, created by Melanie Lucia-Clarke of The Dead Presidents Lounge tattoo parlor, features images that represent the various sectors affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Each T-shirt is available to buy for $25 and is available from the Death Wish Coffee Company website at

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