Red Dog Coffee Roasters is more than a business for owner Erin Anthony. It is a chance to give back to the communities she cares about: athletes, hunters and Vizsla owners.
In fact, her company was inspired by her Vizsla, Roo. Vizslas are medium-sized dogs originating from Hungary that are known for their close companionship to their owners and their seemingly endless energy.
Red Dog Coffee Roasters is a Buchanan coffee roastery that creates made-to-order roasts of multiple varities, from espresso to dark to decaf. When Erin receives an order, she places green coffee beans in a roaster and heats them up to get to a preferred darkness. Then, she packages the beans whole or grounded and delivers them.
The business has kept its core mission the same since it opened in January 2018.
“The more business we do, the more we can give back to the Vizsla community,” Erin says.
Feeling that her jobs as a bike store owner and a veterinarian technician were unfulfilling, the Eau Claire native left her job to open her own coffee roastery in an extension of her Buchanan home in January 2018.
Calling herself and her husband, Roger, self-sufficient people, the couple set up shop on their own — website, graphic design and marketing included.
Since then, the business structure has largely remained the same, Erin says. She continues to make made-to-order, fresh roasts of coffee for customers. Individuals make up nearly all of her client base, although area residents can purchase the product from Apothica Teas in downtown Niles, which has been carrying the coffee since it opened in November 2019.
What has changed is an increase of sales mailed or delivered locally and the support the business has given to organizations and individuals that are meaningful to Erin.
To get an idea of the community she cares most for, all one needs to do is look at a package of Red Dog’s roast. Accompanying each flavor description and bean type is a photo of a dog, a good number of them Vizslas.
Anthony knew the nature of Vizslas fit her lifestyle well when she brought home Roo in 2011. Like other dogs of her breed, the 10-year-old pooch needed a substantial amount of high-energy activity each day.
She also needed her owner by her side. Although Erin said Roo’s training has limited her separation anxiety, many Vizslas have trouble leaving their owners’ sides for long periods of time. It has garnered the breed the nickname “Velcro Vizslas.”
Being full of energy and often developing a dependency, Vizslas are bit like coffee drinkers, and coffee is needed to care for one, Erin says.
“Part of our mission is to educate people about Vizslas because they’re not for everybody,” Erin says. “Probably about 5 percent of the dog-owning population can handle owning a Vizsla. They’re personally demanding.”
She also says the breed is becoming popular. That can lead to bad breeding practices, which in turn can lead to adverse health effects for dogs.
To help spread awareness of Vizslas, Anthony donates $2 of her 12 oz. medium roast, Rescue, to Vizsla Rescue. To help dogs in general, she donates $2 of her 12 oz. dark roast, Woof Warrior, to canine cancer research.
In a pairing of a favorite hobby with a skill Vizslas have, Anthony donates $2 of her 12 oz. medium roast, On Point, to the Ruffed Grouse Society, a national conservation and hunting group for the bird of the same name.
Beginning at 10 a.m. May 30, Anthony will work to better connect Vizslas and their owners with Vizslapalooza at Warren Dunes State Park on Berrien County’s lakeshore. The group will meet for a breakfast social mixer, let their dogs run loose at the park and then go to a variety of breweries and wineries in the area.
Outside of canines, Red Dog is also working to help competitive athletes. The company will release a list of athletes it will sponsor next month.
A sponsorship will grant accepted athletes Red Dog-themed gear catered to their sports and deep discounts in Red Dog coffee and merchandise.
As a former professional mountain biker, Erin says she knows how impactful even a small sponsorship can be.
Midway through the application period, Erin has accepted cyclists, runners, a mixed martial arts fighter, a cross fit athlete, a power lifter and a variety of human-dog duos for a variety of dog sporting events.
“It’s all people that love the breed,” Erin says. “Vizslas tend to attract active people.”
Outside of her upcoming sponsorship and Vizslapalooza, Erin has minor improvements to her business planned.
First, she will soon debut a better method of screen-printing for her merchandise. Later, she hopes to recycle coffee grounds into candles. Another coffee roast that benefits an organization may be in the works, too.
Photography by Emily Sobecki