Taste Radio Ep. 71: Why Intelligentsia’s Doug Zell Will Never Be Satisfied; Runa’s Gage Is “Fully Alive”

Doug Zell believes in “chasing perfection with the hope of never catching it.” That concept guides the core mission of Intelligentsia, a super-premium coffee roaster and retailer that Zell co-founded 22 years ago.

In a conversation included as part of this week’s episode, Zell expounded on how Intelligentsia’s relentless pursuit for improvement permeates its retail and packaged coffee business. He also discussed why the “totality of the impression” carries so much significance for the company, the notion that “quality will always find an audience,” and shared lessons learned from over two decades in business.

Also included in this episode is an interview with Tyler Gage, who co-founded guayusa beverage brand Runa and is the author of a new book called “Fully Alive.” The book chronicles his immersion in Amazonian indigenous spirituality and its life-changing impact on him and his company.

We also spoke with Miriam Novalle, the owner of CBD beverage company High Tea Today, in the latest edition of Elevator Talk.

Show notes:

1:17: So, Shall We Chat About Instagram? — Instagram continues to emerge as an influential social media platform for food and beverage brands. The hosts share their take on key elements of an effective Instagram strategy. Mike Schneider suggests that companies start simple, engage conversation, and “be on brand.” Jon Landis noted that Instagram has become a powerful platform for indie photographers and creative partnerships. John Craven believes that images should be visually appealing, where the product doesn’t take away from the photo itself. Ray likes photos of food and beverages that whet the palate.

5:44: Interview: Doug Zell, Co-Founder, Intelligentsia Coffee — Doug Zell is the co-founder of Intelligentsia, a specialty coffee roaster and retailer with cafes, and production facilities in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York and most recently added a cafe and training lab in Watertown, MA, right down the road from BevNET headquarters. We discuss his background in the coffee business, how Intelligentsia distinguished itself as a super-premium coffee brand, keys to its success, and lessons learned from the company’s 22 years in business.

42:19: Interview: Tyler Gage, Co-Founder, Runa — Tyler discusses his new book, “Fully Alive,” which tells the story about a “successful young entrepreneur’s immersion in Amazonian indigenous spirituality.” Gage discusses how the infusion of shamanistic principles in life and work helped him to build a successful, socially responsible company and live a purposeful life, and why he believes in vulnerability as an important aspect of business.

1:05:03: Elevator Talk — Miriam Novalle is the owner of High Tea Today, a maker of cold brew tea infused with organic CBD.

Brands in this episode: Intelligentsia, Runa, Tio Gazpacho, High Tea Today

For sponsorship opportunities, feedback and suggestions contact podcast@bevnet.com.