The Alpine Flavor Profile: Chase & Kendra Lovins and Alyssa & Ryan Stauffer and Seedhouse Coffee
Alongside the Yampa River and nested in the high Rocky Mountains, Steamboat Springs, Colorado is a hard town to happen upon. “It’s not a by-place,” roaster Chase Lovins says. Visitors don’t really chance upon the Yampa Valley; they have to seek it out. And so everyone who comes to Steamboat, even the seasonal tourist, starts with an intention.
It’s hard to avoid intention generally in this city. In 2018, GoFundMe recognized Steamboat as America’s most generous community per capita. The town understands how important it is to live purposefully, whether that’s with fellow people or with the environment. And Steamboat is a leader in the environmental department, too; the city has implemented its own Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse emissions.
It tracks, then, that a company like Seedhouse Coffee might thrive here. Co-owned by four best friends, Chase & Kendra Lovins and Alyssa & Ryan Stauffer, Seedhouse is its own microcosm of the intention that lives in the Yampa Valley. Their mission is clear and wholesome: “at the heart of our company is coffee with a sense of place.”
In 2018, Gates Gooding, the original founder of Seedhouse, took a cold call from Ryan Stauffer, who was looking to inform his interest in coffee with a job or apprenticeship. Gates took him on, and for the next few years Ryan built up the knowledge and expertise he would later use as Head Roaster. He grew his love of coffee—some might even say he cultivated it, focusing on how roasting served the community and tied people to each other.
Gates was big on relationships too: the kind he made with customers and cafés and retailers, sure, but also the relationships the customer doesn’t see. He used Seedhouse Coffee as an avenue to meet his farmers, learn their process, and inform his own opinions about the production of the coffee bean.
Ryan has what his friend Chase calls an “unbelievable capacity to absorb and learn.” And he has curiosity; the kind that asks good questions and wants to answer them. Naturally, with the support and tutelage of Gates, he had all he needed to excel as a roaster.
In 2021, the Chase and Ryan partnered with Seedhouse to produce a line of compostable single serve coffees—an endeavor that connected Ryan and Chase deeply with the owners, Andy and Kay Leigh Kearns, who bought the company from Gates during the COVID-19 pandemic. They offered the friends the business. And so, in the beginning of 2022, the team went all-in, and Seedhouse Coffee became theirs.
With Ryan at the roasting helm, the company was in good hands. “He’s become an expert,” Chase says. “I never have a doubt of the quality.” With Ryan working on the well-being of the beans, Chase has charged himself with the well-being of the business, focusing his own collaborative efforts on managing their operations. Alyssa spearheads sales and pushes the team to where they need to be—sometimes out of their comfort zone, but always with an intuition for growth and exploration. And Kendra is the visionary; she has an understanding of the brand, coupled with a wordsmith’s instinct, that puts her at the forefront of communication with Steamboat, Hayden, and the wider world.
Together, they make up a comprehensive cast of business owners who understand and value the impact that they can make as a whole. Their own intention is to serve the local community of Steamboat Springs and Routt County, an area that is most often known for its seasonal tourists and their winter hobbies.
In the team’s own words, the coffee industry is built on connection: the relationships that Seedhouse makes, matter. Up the chain, they matter to the farmers, producers, and harvesters; and down the chain, they matter to the locals and tourists alike, along with the wider community. But at the end of the day, they have a soft spot for the locals who buy their product and recognize it as a staple of Steamboat life.
Together, they want to ensure that Seedhouse upholds the values of the area—nature, sustainability, friendship—but they also want to acknowledge just how integral the coffee industry is to many other towns and many other people. “Coffee is such an interconnected world,” they say: “the moment we step away from that is the moment we’re just running a business.”
Before they were roasters, the Lovins and the Stauffers were humanitarians. Kendra helped found an organization that works in regions that struggle with conflict and instability, with a goal of helping young people learn tolerance and reach new understandings of each other. Alyssa worked in community development as well; she’s what Chase calls “a superhuman.” And Chase and Ryan’s families were both involved in international relief and reconciliation; growing up, they all internalized the significance of harmony and what Ryan calls “our shared humanity.”
And they were travelers, too. Between the four of them, they’ve visited five countries together on both personal and service trips. In traveling so much, they learned to lean on each other in unfamiliar places with a shared goal of creating new memories and experiences. It’s a mindset, they say, that’s parallel to the mindset needed in running a business together.
Now, they’re still humanitarians and travelers—but their methods are mainly through the avenue of coffee.
None of them started out in Steamboat Springs. But all roads led them there anyway; Chase met Kendra in Steamboat when they both worked at a local resort. Ryan vacationed in Steamboat before, traveling from Pennsylvania every year or so. He moved there with Alyssa as a trial: but all four of them stayed, enamored with the culture and—of course—the intentional lifestyle. And if it wasn’t permanent before, it is now; Chase and Kendra just welcomed their first child into the cradle of the Yampa Valley.
It’s easy to see how much they love their town, their natural surroundings, and their business. And it’s probably just as easy to see how much they love each other, too. “There’s probably like four people I don’t get tired of,” Ryan says. “Chase is one of them.”
“…so far,” Chase adds on, but it’s clear that neither is expecting anything to change anytime soon. Their success with Seedhouse is just a side effect of their commitment to hard work, a sustainable lifestyle, and each other.
They make it look easy to manage the number of orders that come with a 10k roaster and partnerships in dozens of grocery stores and many cafes throughout the Front Range. But behind the scenes, there’s a lot more going on, all of which needs balanced against and juggled with. Like every entrepreneur, they know that purchasing and running a business is a risk for anyone. But “it’s much less of a risk when there’s four of us—four hearts,” Chase says. “We buoy each other.”
Since the four of them have taken over Seedhouse, they’ve found the support of all the Seedhouse roasters who’ve come before them: Gates Gooding, Asa Ireland, and Andy Kearns. They’ve focused on continuing processes that are already in motion, such as roasting and bean procuring methods, while also working towards a more sustainable model with packaging and farm connections. To them, social sustainability is paramount. So they’re making strides in cutting out the intermediary parties between farmer and roaster, opting instead for a nonstop farmer-to-roaster pipeline. A direct tin can, if you will, on a string thousands of miles long.
Alongside these changes, they’re looking forward to refreshing the aesthetics of the brand with new label designs this summer. In order to realign the original mission of Seedhouse with the changes that’ve happened, they’ve employed a design friend to aid them in reconnecting the visual of the brand with its vibe. And they’ve reached out to local artists as well, with the goal of designing unique and beautiful packaging for each forthcoming seasonal blend.
From their roasting space in downtown Steamboat, the Seedhouse team puts in their daily hours to ensure the local community is nourished and looked after—and well stocked-up on good drinks to keep them warm through the Colorado winter. If you’re feeling chilled or just in the mood to order some quality coffee, you can find them on their website or Instagram.
And if you find yourself in Steamboat, it’s likely you’ll run into them; they’ve got their fingers in a number of local events and projects. And they’ll be happy to chat with you: “Chase loves telling stories,” Ryan says. And Chase will absolutely tell you a story—with his best friend’s help.
“You start,” he’ll say, “I’ll finish.”