First Bev’s Joth Ricci Goes Home as President of Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Joth Ricci has left First Beverage Group, the investment and consulting firm where he was a managing partner, to become the president of fast-growing “third wave” coffee company Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

“They [Stumptown] had a need, I had a skill, and I found my desire was more to be an operator than what I was doing,” Ricci said. While he enjoyed the dealmaking and consulting aspects of First Beverage, he added, “I wanted to get back into running a business. It’s been very cool – I’ve got one week under my belt, so I’m a veteran.”

Stumptown, which currently has 10 store locations, is based in Ricci’s hometown of Portland – a big draw for him and his young family. He said his wife had left him a pound of coffee with a note inside that said “welcome home” after he’d told her the news.

Ricci, one of the primary faces of First Beverage, which was founded by William Anderson, has also worked as the CEO of Jones Soda and at Columbia Distributing, where he was general manager.

Ricci’s experience as a distributor should come in handy: Stumptown operates on a hub-and-spoke model of distribution that places coffee roasting facilities close to wholesale accounts and its retail cafés. That allows the company to deliver its products within 48 hours of roasting – fulfilling its purpose of delivering the freshest possible coffee all over the country. The company has more than 1000 wholesale accounts, an internet business, and a growing and on-trend RTD cold-brewed package.

First Beverage team (l-to-r) Tom First, Joth Ricci and Bill Anderson, in December

“We run it just like a wholesaler in the business would,” he said. ”The bigger we get the more we need from that skill set.”

And Stumptown should have the ability – and the cash – to get bigger. In June, 2011, a portion of the company was purchased by TSG, a private equity company that has backed beverage brands like Muscle Milk, Neuro, and Vitaminwater.  An investigation by Portland alt-weekly Williamette Week at the time of the sale turned up statements that TSG owned up to 90 percent of Stumptown. It is about to open a new roasting facility in a Los Angeles factory and a new, high-profile store in Manhattan.

Despite having made a splash due to the investment, Stumptown typically takes the quiet road as it grows – the company does not issue press releases. News of the change emerged today when Dry Soda company, based in Seattle, announced that Ricci had also joined its board of directors.

Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson remains the CEO of the company, according to Ricci.