Fort Smith Retailer Back in Single-Serve Coffee Market

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 112 views 

The gourmet coffee brand known for bringing “a smile with every sip” is in line to bring an even bigger smile to its owners.

Fort Smith-based retailer is back in the single-serve cup game with its proprietary blend, Miss Ellie’s Coffee.

Company CEO Bill McClure, who founded the family business in 2008 with daughters Ellie Glidewell (managing partner) and Emmie Thomas (partner and CFO), said he’s eager to capitalize with the new product by putting Miss Ellie’s single-serve offerings for Keurig machines into stores across the country.

The target is to be in 2,500 retail stores by the end of 2014. McClure said those efforts will be led by Chris Couch, a former executive with J.C. Penney.

“This is the big deal; this is the opportunity we’ve waited for,” McClure said.

McClure was forced to stop selling single-serve coffee packs in 2011 when his supplier — Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. of Vermont, the largest player in the single-serve market — stopped supplying its patented K-Cup coffee pods to

Keurig is a wholly owned subsidiary of Green Mountain, and the company tried to boost sales and discourage competition by partnering with high-profile coffee brands to sell K- Cups. 

McClure challenged the practices in court, but lost.

But the GMCR’s patents for the K-Cups expired in September, meaning competitors can now make their own version of K-Cups to challenge the company’s market share. launched Miss Ellie’s single-serve offering July 1 in Real Cup packaging. It’s similar to K-Cup, McClure said, but has a paper filter instead of fiber. It’s developed by Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee, a company based in Canada. shipped 14,669 online orders last year, but the addition of single-serve options has orders tracking at just more than 55,000 this year, McClure said.