Coffee has long been a part of American military culture. For sailors of the last century, a good cup of coffee is a must for telling stories of the sea – and these veterans have just launched a brand new online store filled with lore, sea stories and more. really Good coffee.
Although coffee is a given on Navy or Coast Guard ships these days, it was once alcohol that sailors liked to drink. During the administration of President Woodrow Wilson, his Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, issued General Order 99 on June 1, 1914 – prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on naval vessels. This was all to “clean up” the sailors’ image, so they turned to the next best thing: really strong coffee.
“Old Salt Coffee is really about Navy culture. These are relationships that span from ancient times, from Master Chiefs who have been there for a long time, to new sailors beginning the journey,” explained co-founder and retired Navy Commander David Fulwider. “The other founder and I had been talking for a long time about getting into a coffee business. In fact, we seriously decided to buy a coffee farm in Kona, but we couldn’t convince our wives to move.
After watching the e-commerce world explode, Navy veterans realized they didn’t need an onsite store to bring great coffee to the world. Both worked closely with a roaster in California to taste and craft their beans. Old Salt Coffee was born. Other founders and team members include veteran naval surface and submarine warfare officers Brian Shipman and Richard Perry, Terry Stewart, Brandon Fulwider, Chris Haas, Joanna Kurylo and his wife Patrice Haas.
“With my civilian career, I was lucky enough to be able to travel the world. I started developing a taste for different types of coffee,” Fulwider said. “And I’m no expert, but I know what I like and I figured out at some point that wine has 600 different flavonoids. Coffee has 1500 and it has so many different aspects in terms of taste and it really fueled my interest in coffee and now it’s such a passion.
Although the team was made up mostly of Navy veterans and “military kids,” Air Force veteran and television producer Eric Begley was a welcome addition.
“One of the things I love about this brand is the sense of community. I even tell my kids, ‘Service to your country gives you something to wear for the rest of your life. “, he shared. “I came out 20 years ago and I’m still very close to my friends. The naval community in particular is truly special. I love watching how they engage together online, it almost gives you chills.
The cafes all have unique names like Battleship, Green Eyes (for special forces), Silent Service, Haze Grey, Liberty Call and Brown Shoe Blend. Each purchase also comes with targeted donations, with a portion of sales going to specific nonprofits.
The passion for the military and service runs deep for this team with many of their family members serving across generations. Although the company’s theme may revolve around maritime services, its message resonates with the entire armed forces.
Fulwider was commissioned in 1972 after completing four years at the Naval Academy. Although he was on active duty for a time, he moved to the reserves as a pilot until his retirement in 2000. Begley served from 1989 to 1993, after an injury sidelined him from his role as stevedore on the C130s.
“I’m a TV producer these days and I’ve talked to a wide variety of people. I met a ton of veterans and made stories about tragedies and triumphs and everything else,” Begley explained. “I was in the Air Force and I didn’t kick down doors and go door to door or anything like that. But there’s a common bond no matter what branch you’re in. .
Sitting around a good cup of coffee is also a shared experience for many, evoking memories and emotions. For Begley, it’s a moment of peace before the chaos of everyday life and for Fulwider, memories that bring laughter to his veteran father and his refusal to let his mother wash the coffee pot because it contained “good oil of coffee”.
In April 2022, the group worked with country music singer Brandon Davis to write Stand the Watch. They filmed and produced the video for the song aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Hawaii. This was a special effort and tribute to heroes of the sea and Old Salt Coffee’s Battleship Blend is donating $1 to the WWII Battleships Missouri and New Jersey Memorial.
Although their official the watch is over, Old Salt Coffee stands ready to support the next one. One cup of coffee at a time.
To learn more about this veteran-owned business and get your Old Salt Coffee, click here.