* Hugh Jackman is the founder of Laughing Man Coffee
* Company started in 2011 after the actor’s chance meeting with coffee farmer in Africa
* Now available to shop online as beans, coffee grounds and pods
Hugh Jackman may be best known for his starring roles in films like Wolverine and The Greatest Showman, but these days, the actor says he’s stopped more for his coffee than for his movies. The entrepreneur started Laughing Man Coffee in 2011 after a chance meeting with a coffee farmer during a trip to Ethiopia. Taken with the world-class coffee, and the sense of community within the farmer’s village, Jackman was inspired to start a brand that would not only deliver quality coffee beans, but give back to those same communities as well.
This holiday season, Jackman says he’s hoping people will consider getting a couple bags of his coffee both for themselves, and as a gift for others. A portion of sales from every purchase will also go to Jackman’s Laughing Man Foundation, which supports independent coffee farmers and their families.
We caught up with Jackman to find out how the company came to be, how Laughing Man is different from other beverage brands, and how the actor likes to take his coffee in the morning.
How did you get involved with Laughing Man? Why did you choose to align yourself with coffee, and with this brand?
After a trip to Ethiopia working with a very special coffee farmer named Dukale, I was deeply inspired not only by the quality of his coffee, but by his family and community. Here was a farmer, growing world-class coffee and because he was in Ethiopia, he and his family had tremendous hurdles to overcome, including poverty. Yet, their spirit, generosity, and laughter were limitless. I promised him I would help. So, I partnered with my friends Barry and David Steingard to create Laughing Man Coffee to fulfill that promise to Dukale and other coffee farmers to help improve their lives by sharing their extraordinary Fair Trade Certified coffees with the world.
What makes this brand different and how does Laughing Man stand out in the competitive coffee marketplace?
First, our coffee is outstanding. Being an Aussie, I am a coffee snob, so I can’t do coffee without it being amazing. Our café in Tribeca is truly made up of a team of dedicated coffee artisans. When you buy Laughing Man Coffee in bags and K-Cup pods, it delivers the same premium quality that people in the café enjoy every day.
But taste alone isn’t enough to stand out. What really makes us different is the sincerity and authenticity of our story. I really did not set out to start a coffee company. I was so inspired by what I saw in Ethiopia and when I came back, I opened a café and it grew from there. Laughing Man Coffee helps ‘Make Every Cup Count’ by donating a portion of sales from each purchase directly to the Laughing Man Foundation, which deploys programs that clear the way to health, growth and success for coffee farmers and their families. People all over need hope, joy, and inspiration. I believe Laughing Man Coffee provides that to those who come into the café, enjoy it in their homes, and also to the coffee families who truly risk a lot for the cup we drink.
What has surprised you about this process of a) making coffee and b) starting a company?
People stop me more for my coffee then they do for my movies. It is heartwarming how touched and moved people are by the story. I love being able to use any notoriety I have in this to give voice to this brand. Laughing Man Coffee is truly a win-win for farmers and people want things that are delicious and do good, and we fit that bill.
What is your favorite blend from the collection, aside from your own? (Jackman has a medium roast in the collection called “Hugh’s Blend”)
I’ll always be partial to Dukale’s blend; it’s where we came from. But other than that, right now I am loving the Colombia Huila blend. It’s perfect any time, with or without milk, balanced, bold, rich and tons of cherry and chocolate notes.
Last question: How do you take your coffee? How many cups do you drink a day?
My favorite drink is the Flat White at our cafe at 184 Duane Street. It’s made with Dukale’s Blend, and with the way it is made, I only need one cup. We believe in making every cup count for customers and farmers, so if you only have one cup it better be good for you and good for others.