When Slingshot Coffee Co. owner Jenny Bonchak hobbled into the Target offices in Minneapolis – on crutches with a backpack carrying her company’s signature brew – she had no idea the national retailer would agree that day to distribute it.
But now, two of the Raleigh company’s drinks will be sold in 250 Target stores throughout the southern United States. The organic, single-origin cold brew coffee and the single-origin Cascara Tea, which is made using dried coffee cherries, will be sold in Target stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida. (Single origin means sourced from one particular region or farm.)
Slingshot, owned by Bonchak and her husband, Jonathan, got its start in Raleigh in 2012 making small batches of the cold-brewed coffee. They’re specialty coffee industry veterans and national award-winning baristas.
Their products can be found in specialty stores in more than 20 states. It’s also on shelves at Whole Foods east of the Mississippi, Trader’s Joe’s, Earth Fare and Dean & Deluca.
And as of Tuesday, it’s listed on the Target website.
Bonchak said she’s kept the good news under wraps since accepting an invitation to meet with Target in September.
“I broke my foot the week before,” Bonchak said in an interview Tuesday. “So I showed up in Minneapolis and hobbled in there in these nice clothes with a boot, on crutches and with a backpack full of Slingshot ... They signed us on the spot.”
It’s still unbelievable, Bonchak said, adding that it was a Target employee who was a fan of Slingshot that started the ball rolling.
“That’s the best testament we could possible have,” she said. “It’s really having an impact on people. They’re talking not of just how incredibly delicious it is, and they’re sharing that with others.”
Target wanted even more from Slingshot and offered to carry the products in more stores. But Bonchak said Slingshot agreed to only a portion of what Target wanted to ensure they can keep up with production.
“We have to prepare for that,” Bonchak said. “We don’t want to let any of our customers or Target’s guests down. We need to think about how we grow and scale.”
The Target launch comes on the heels of a limited product release of a drink called “Long Distance Relationship,” a collaboration between Slingshot and Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
Slingshot has plans to move into a new production facility in Raleigh later this year.