It Was Never Just About a Coffee Company – Nick Bayer

Nick Bayer is the founder and CEO of Saxbys Coffee, a Philadelphia-based social impact and coffee company. From humble beginnings as the son of teenage parents, Nick was the first in his family to graduate college. Graduating from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science, Government, and Economics he went on to found Saxbys in August 2005.

The route to the founding of the company wasn’t so straightforward, however. Similarly to many college students today, he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his career after college, all he knew was that he wanted to do something greater than a job, he said he wanted “a calling.” While still enrolled at Cornell, he did three internships in three different industries and cities, to find out more about his interest and what would work for him, he eventually found out that he enjoyed the challenge of business. However, business as a force for good wasn’t taught in school back in those days.

Knowing he wanted to be in a position where his job would be a calling, entrepreneurship seemed like the way to go. He wasn’t too interested in tech, which was the big thing at the time but he was interested in people so a people-centric business was his objective.

“You serve yourself by serving others!” He eventually came to the conclusion that a coffee business would be ideal for his ambition, as it is the essential people business. From 2005 up until now, Saxbys has been serving people all over the East-Coast, to the point where before the pandemic they served 15,000 people a day and employed 900 people from various backgrounds and circumstances, giving them all equal opportunities to succeed and grow inside the company.  On Temple’s campus, both Saxbys locations are 100% student-run, which is an efficient way of teaching socially-minded entrepreneurship, business management, and leadership to students willing to learn and make money at the same time.

Saxbys Coffee considers itself a long-term focused business, which values stakeholders before shareholders. Big changes start at the local level so the company is focusing on opening more locations in areas neglected by other companies of its size. Last year they opened an all student-run coffee shop at Bowie State, making it their first school outside of Pennsylvania, and an HBCU. Nick’s team itself is composed of 60% female and people of color, and 90% of them are first-generation college graduates, which explains their perspective and the choices they make as a company.

It was never just about a coffee company. We want to do things outside the coffee industry,” Nick told us after being asked where he sees Saxbys going in the future. Moving into other platforms all throughout the talent development program is a big goal of Saxbys in the coming years. “If you have a talent you can do a lot of things, so team development is really important to us.” Along with its sustainable business model of sourcing directly from coffee growers themselves, Saxbys also wants to expand its student-run coffee shops into community colleges and high schools, as well as create a platform to close the inequality gap.

To truly walk their talk, Saxbys has been certified as a B-Corp, a kind of business legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, suppliers, community, customers, and the environment.