Matt Argo of Good Folks Coffee Talks Rebranding, Origin, and Expansion

Good Folks Coffee

Matt Argo is quietly building a coffee empire. From humble beginnings in a basement to a brand new roasting facility in Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood, Argo’s Good Folks Coffee Company is going places and shows no signs of slowing down. We recently caught up with the Arkansas-bred entrepreneur to ask him what we can expect from Good Folks in the future. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you end up starting a coffee company?

I grew up in Arkansas and spent 8 years in the Army National Guard after high school.  I did a good amount of international travel during that time in the military (one tour in Iraq) as well as with my wife in Africa a few times.  We spent 5 months in Tanzania before we moved to Louisville.  During my time in the military and throughout our travels, we developed a love for coffee. We loved the social aspect as well as the economic impact it has in producing countries.  I knew I wanted to start a business after my military contract was complete, and I loved to travel and work with people from different cultures and backgrounds.  Coffee seemed to be a perfect fit. 

Good Folks Coffee

Your coffee company, previously known as Argo Sons, recently rebranded itself as Good Folks Coffee. We thought Argo Sons was a very strong name. What inspired the transition?
Starting and running a business throws plenty of challenges and surprises at you along the way. We wanted a brand that was more translatable in different regions that didn’t have to be tied to my name as an owner.  We were already selling the Good Folks brand in some stores for a couple of years. The brand was an attempt to “roast great coffee for good folks” and not confuse our customers by lingo and terminology they may or may not know or be of interest to them. The Good Folks brand was well received and it was fun for us to work with. So, we decided to put more time and energy into that concept. It’s really a nod to the producers who grow the coffee and to our cafes that brew it for their customers.  We love our customers and suppliers and think they are all good folks! Essentially, we don’t want to take ourselves or the brand too seriously…  At the end of the day, we’re having a lot of fun roasting coffee.
Good Folks Coffee
Last year you moved into your new headquarters in Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood. What can you tell us about the space?
We are enjoying the space and the neighborhood.  We started our business in a basement and then moved to a loud music store before our current space. Having four walls around us and being above ground feels pretty groovy!  A portion of the roastery serves as a training lab for our wholesale customers.  It’s equipped with great grinders, coffee toys, and a gravimetric Black Eagle from Victoria Arduino.  We also have coffee plants growing in the roastery from the farms we are sourcing from in Colombia. We’re guessing these have to be the first coffee plants ever grown in the Shelby Park neighborhood, but we have absolutely zero proof of that.  We hope to see fruit in 5-6 years!
Argo-3 copy
You’ve traveled fairly extensively across the coffee producing world. What role do origin trips play for Good Folks?
Origin trips shape our view of coffee and how we approach roasting and marketing the coffee to our customers.  Seeing the producers, hearing their stories, and seeing what is happening on the farm level, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly helps us understand how to communicate to our customers. Seeing innovation take place at origin helps us plan for the future and understand everything from market fluctuations to trends in the industry. Farm visits energize us as roasters and keep us excited about the coffees we roast. It’s truly a privilege to see the journey of unique coffees from the farm to the cup.
Good Folks Coffee
In a few short years your company has grown from a small, local roaster to a strong, regional company. What’s next for Good Folks?
We’re really content right now with where we are as a company.  We’re thankful for our existing relationships as well as new customers that we are just beginning to serve. We’re happy with our current and upcoming coffee lineups.  We are doing a couple of collaborations with other non-coffee companies that has been fun. One of the companies is a distillery, so we’re excited about the product that is currently underway with them. Our home coffee subscription service is almost ready to relaunch on our new website.  We look forward to the new look and feel of the subscriptions.  Last but not least, we can’t wait for the next farm visit…. wherever that may be!
All photos by Andrew Cenci for the Coffee Compass. 

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