by Carlee Benjamin
Introduced to Starbucks in high school, Reid Burford found coffee too bitter and acidic to be enjoyable. After experimenting with roasting coffee beans at home, he discovered the simple truth that freshly roasted coffee is better coffee. Because it’s best in the first three to fourteen days after roasting, most coffees on the market are simply past their prime. To avoid the delays of packaging, shipping and stocking like store-bought coffee, Burford began roasting his own beans in his garage, with his basset hounds Basil and Pepper keeping him company.
The appeal of Howling Hounds Coffee Roasters, which Burford founded in 2016, is Burford’s roast-to-order model. While specialty coffees and cafes aren’t uncommon, roast-to-order is a unique approach in the market. Beans aren’t roasted until the customer’s order has been received, and are quickly mailed to the customer, guaranteeing the freshest flavors possible. Subscription options ensure customers are never left without their caffeine.
Now a second-year student working towards a double degree in accounting and innovation & entrepreneurship, Burford has been building his brand in OSU’s student business incubator, Launch Academy. Launch Academy, a program of OSU’s InnovationX Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, provides a variety of resources to students, including mentorship, prototyping support, DAMLab makerspace access and exclusive competitions to win startup funding.
Nothing is as exciting to me as being around other students who are excited about entrepreneurship and bouncing new ideas off of each other.Reid Burford
For Burford, mentoring and being a part of a community of student entrepreneurs have been highlights of the program: “Nothing is as exciting to me as being around other students who are excited about entrepreneurship and bouncing new ideas off of each other. It’s a highly supportive environment that I love surrounding myself in,” he said.
Howling Hounds coffee is currently available only online, but Burford is looking to expand his availability to selling in-person at the local farmer’s market, and eventually, open his own store.