boom, roasted

Houston-based coffee company invests $10M into expansion, new state-of-the-art roasters

FreshBrew has upgraded to some high-tech roasting equipment. Image courtesy of FreshBrew

Houston-based FreshBrew, one of the largest private-label coffee and tea producers in the country, announced this month the recent investment of $10 million into its specialty roasting and production divisions.

FreshBrew supplies specialty blended coffee, tea and total beverage solutions to companies in the food service, convenience store, hospitality and retail sectors.

The investment will expand current roasting production and will fund extraction, bottling and canning capabilities, making FreshBrew one of only a few companies in the country to offer total end-to-end beverage solutions. The expansion, which is on the same land the company has owned since its inception in 1995, is slated to be complete in early 2023.

“Over the years, we take a myopic approach with our customers, we look at what they want to achieve and look at their market, and blend their wants and our knowledge and create custom profiles for them,” says Al Ansari, president and CEO of FreshBrew.

As part of the investment, FreshBrew upgraded its existing roasters and purchased two additional roasters and added 11 packing lines for a total of 25 to accommodate increased demand. In addition, the company expanded its team lines and added sugar to its production to allow for sweet tea products.

Construction is now underway to transform the 40,000-square-feet of vending space to allow for extraction, bottling and canning production in-house. The company also acquired an additional 25,000 square-feet of space, creating a combined total of 140,000 square feet for the roasting plant and warehouse. The company plans to add up to 50 employees with the expansion and is currently at 100.

“I think COVID really changed the game for everybody in doing business, especially in the coffee market – people want innovative products, flavored coffee, cold coffee now. We believe unique items will be the wave of the future – the companies that are the most nimble will succeed and I think that’s what we do very well,” says Ansari.

Earlier this year, FreshBrew sold the vending division of the company to Compass Group North America, the owner of Canteen Vending Services, in response to rapidly increasing customer demand for production services.

Al Ansari is the president and CEO of FreshBrew. Photo courtesy of FreshBrew

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Building Houston


VR training startup, HTX Labs, has raised funding from an outside investor for the first time. Courtesy of HTX Labs

HTX Labs, a Houston-based company that designs extended reality training for military and business purposes, announced last week that it has raised its first outside capital.

The company has received a $3.2 million investment from Cypress Growth Capital. Founded in 2017, HTX Labs — developer of the EMPACT Immersive Learning Platform — has been granted funding from the Department of Defense as well as grown its client base of commercial Enterprises. The platform uses virtual and extended reality that "enables organizations to rapidly create, deploy, measure, and sustain cost-effective, secure, and centralized immersive training programs, all within engaging, fully interactive virtual environments," per a news release.

“We have been looking to secure outside capital to accelerate the growth of our EMPACT platform and customer base but we hadn’t found the right partner who provided an investment vehicle that matched our needs,“ says HTX Labs CEO Scott Schneider in the release. “We found everything we were looking for in Cypress Growth Capital. They have a non-dilutive funding model that aligns with our capital expectations and have the level of experience that really makes this smart money.

"Cypress has a decade-long track record of success in helping emerging software and services companies achieve scale," he continues. "It is clear that the team’s collective entrepreneurial and operating experience will be of tremendous benefit to us as we focus on expanding our customer base in a very intentional way.”

The fresh funding will go toward growing and scaling the company's operations — both within the current Department of Defense and expansion opportunities into key commercial markets, like heavy industry, manufacturing, and higher education. Additionally, the funding will support increased customer adoption.

“Scott and his team have built an exceptional business that is poised for dramatic growth,” says Cypress Partner Pat McCaffrey in the release. “HTX Labs’ modern, immersive training solution provides clients with a force multiplier for modernizing training and an unmatched ROI.”

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