We have a saying around Royal Cup: "It is not the some of us, but the sum of us who make the difference". That being said, we love to feature the different faces around Royal Cup in our monthly employee spotlight, which we call The Sum of Us. This month we talk with our Director of Innovation and Product Development, David Strahl.
It's David's job to make sure that we're constantly innovating and staying ahead of the curve on new coffee and tea trends. From wacky-flavored iced teas to nitro cold brew, David has tried it all. Get to know David more in our interview with him below!
What does your “typical” work day look like?
Due to the fast pace of innovation and product development at Royal Cup, there’s really no such thing as a typical work day!
I have to balance white space planned innovation and product development with our current coffee and tea offerings. Royal Cup is many things to many different accounts -- we have to manage customer experience for our current customers and potential new customers daily.
Tell us a little about your background in innovation.
I have been fortunate in the past to innovate and sell for some of the world’s best consumer products companies such as Warner- Lambert, Pfizer, and Georgia Pacific, where I worked in product development, brand development, and consumer marketing. I have been a leader in bringing ideas to the consumer market and developing product brands that sell over $100 million annually.
How did you get started at Royal Cup/H.C. Valentine?
I was hired in 2007 to create the H.C. Valentine Coffee and Tea Company for Royal Cup. The process was to analyze the best micro-roaster coffee companies in the U.S.
The challenge was to create a superior coffee and tea brand that would win premium tastings and business in the foodservice and office coffee markets. That meant learning everything there was to know about coffee and tea -- from farm to cup.
I had to educate our employees and customers on how to sell our H.C. Valentine Coffee and Tea brand to customers and consumers. After developing the products with my awesome roast master Stacy Hawkins in Birmingham Alabama, I traveled all over the United States, Caribbean, and Canada with our sales team to market and sell H.C. Valentine products to make sure it got a strong market share.
What is your favorite H.C. Valentine coffee and tea?
My favorite coffee that I developed is the Rainforest Alliance H.C. Valentine Signature Blend (Buy it here). My favorite espresso is the 100% Organic Signature Espresso (Buy it here). My favorite tea developed by our H.C. Valentine Tea guru, Marshall Malone, is the H.C. Valentine Yellow Peach Rooibos & Fruit Tea (Buy it here).
What trends do you think will be big in the next 5 to 10 years?
We will continue to see more natural craft drinks with functional benefits. We will also see coffee and tea in more non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Coffee and tea are the original energy drinks, and they will play a big part in that segment’s growth.
More innovation from coffee and tea brewers will happen as the continued growth of coffee and tea consumption happen. Benefits and added flavor from the natural coffee cherries will be used in many consumer products.
Tea will continue to become more prominent in U.S. culture. How consumers buy and get their coffees and tea delivered will continue to change due to improved technology, and I think we’ll continue to see a shift in online purchases and drone deliveries.
What’s the best part of your job?
I get to try to make my product dreams into realities, and have people purchase them every day! Nothing is better than walking into grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, and offices watching people use products that I created -- and seeing the smiles on their faces. The other best part of my job is working with other passionate and talented people to develop new ideas and products.