ReGen Brands Recap #65

Hovik Azadkhanian @ Heirloom Coffee Roasters

Pioneering A Regenerative Coffee Revolution

Hovik Azadkhanian is the Founder and CEO of Heirloom Coffee Roasters, which is supporting regenerative agriculture with its 6-SKU lineup of Regenerative Organic Certified® whole bean coffees. Heirloom Coffee can be found in Sprouts across the nation, as well as independent retailers on the West Coast. Individual bags and subscription services are also available on their website.


Three Generations of Coffee Roasting

 Coffee has always been a part of Hovik’s life. His father, an Armenian living in Iran, immigrated to the US as a teen in the 1950s. Building off of his own mother’s experience in coffee roasting back in Iran, Hovik’s father decided to open a coffee shop and later built a successful B2B coffee roasting business that he eventually sold. Hovik grew up in his family’s coffee shop roasting coffee with his father, and eventually received an opportunity to buy back the roasting business and factory to begin his own entrepreneurial coffee journey in 2019.

After completely remodeling the roasting facility,  Hovik launched his own coffee brand – Heirloom. The name pays homage to his family’s history in roasting and honors the farming families that have dedicated their livelihoods to growing coffee.

“I've been in the coffee industry basically, my whole life. I started to roast coffee with my dad at, like, eight years old…My dad was really insistent on me learning the craft. And, It was really something that I appreciated later in life because I've basically done nothing else for the past 30 years.” - Hovik



The Fight To Save Coffee

Hovik’s dedication to supporting regenerative coffee production stems from realizing that under commercial practices, specialty coffee may die out in the not-so-distant future.

“I found out the world is likely not gonna be able to produce specialty grade coffee by 2050. And so that, to me, was like a major alarm because I'm a 3rd generation coffee roaster. I come from, a line of really hard work, and I want my kids to have something to do one day, that's related to the coffee industry.” - Hovik

He then deep-dived into certification standards and found Regenerative Organic Certified)® (ROC™) to be the most comprehensive and impactful in terms of restoring soils, building climate resilience, and supporting farmer livelihoods. Through Sustainable Harvest he was connected to the first ROC™ certified farm in Nicaragua, and proudly purchased a portion of their first harvest.

Hovik’s dedication to supporting regenerative coffee goes beyond ensuring a stable supply of quality beans for his brand. He sees the hard work and the pride of the coffee producers and is hell-bent on supporting them to maintain their livelihoods for generations to come.


Pioneering A Regenerative Coffee Revolution

Heirloom Coffee Roasters has a three-pronged approach to winning over consumers and spearheading a regenerative coffee revolution: 1) high-quality ROC™ certified beans, 2) innovative roasting that delivers a stand-out taste, and 3) a community space to educate and share the story of regenerative coffee.

Buying  ROC™ certified coffee is how Heirloom ensures it is promoting social and environmental well-being, and sourcing top-quality beans. On the social impact side, the certification allows farmers to set their own prices, ensuring they earn more for their quality products. Then, regenerative practices, such as mulching and cover cropping, enrich the soil and build a healthy growing ecosystem, ensuring coffee can continue to be produced for years to come. Even better, Hovik has found that ROC™ certified coffee beans have even more pronounced flavors.

Hovik has utilized his background in roasting to truly differentiate Heirloom’s coffee. He and his team have developed a proprietary, culinary roasting method that slows and speeds up the roasting process at different stages to heighten certain flavors. Due to this method, Heirloom coffees are known to have a naturally sweet finish that lingers after the final sip.

Hovik has also invested in the environmental sustainability of roasting, purchasing sixteen fully electric Bellweather roasters. These roasters are zero-emission, meaning they do not emit any smoke from the roasting process. In the future, Hovik aims to fuel these roasters through solar power. Heirloom takes environmental sustainability a step further in its food service partnerships, where they sell regenerative coffee to mission-aligned campuses and companies in fully home compostable packaging, delivered through a zero plastic packing and transport process. 

Hovik is incredibly passionate about bringing others in on his journey and educating the masses about regenerative coffee. The electric roasting facility functions as the the world's first regenerative coffee research lab and a community learning space, bringing in consumers, farmers, roasters, and other brands to taste test and learn more about regenerative coffee.


Nationwide In 9 Months

Heirloom coffee has experienced incredibly rapid success, growing from one shelf at Northern California’s Berkeley Bowl specialty store in May 2022 to nationwide in Sprouts by March 2023.

“We just went grocery store to grocery store, knocking on doors, shaking hands, building a customer base” - Hovik 

Winning the Good Food Award and KeHe's Golden Ticket have helped open retailer doors and catapulted Heirloom to be the fastest-growing coffee in the natural channel. Now Hovik and his team are working with Green Spoon to gain access to more large natural retailers. With no lack of capacity to roast and 100% of their SKUs now ROC™ certified, Heirloom is ready to take over the specialty coffee aisle across the US.


50% Market Share 4 Regen

Educating the consumer and inviting them in as a part of the solution is what Hovik believes will transform our food system.

He believes clear, trustworthy, and comprehensive certifications like ROC™ are a start, especially in products like coffee that are saturated with sustainability claims. Then, he says, it’s all about delivering outstanding taste at an accessible price and in a manner convenient to the consumer, so that they are hooked for life.

Something Anthony summed up well at the end of the episode…

“We have to give people agency without blame and shame…we have to make it feel good and taste good to do good.” - Anthony


This ReGen Recap was written by Katey Finnegan

The illustrations were created by Stacey Shaller

You can check out the full episode with Hovik Azadkhanian @ Heirloom Coffee Roasters HERE.

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