Editor's note: This is the second story in a continuing series looking at businesses that are "Humboldt Made."
Chris Nichols said one of the best memories he has from attending the Burning Man festival is the people serving his Muddy Waters coffee taking the time to boogie.
"The supervisor turned up the music and made the people dance," Nichols said, laughing. "There was a huge line and everything paused for a good few minutes. Times there are always pretty wild. We've been the sole provider of coffee at the event for several years, because we have the best prices by far."
Steve Pitzer, owner and manager of Eureka Natural Foods, said he appreciates Nichols approach to pricing.
"Chris is a good businessman," Pitzer said. "One of our missions is to stretch the food dollar. I have to feed my family and often times your rent or electricity bills are fixed and you want to try and save money in the grocery store."
Nichols, who is from Redwood City, has been working for Muddy Waters Coffee since 1999 -- when he was a student at Humboldt State University. He eventually became general manager, before buying the company in 2007. He said his love for the business -- where he roasts the 100 percent organic coffee five mornings a week -- is hard to describe.
"I like coffee. I drink it every day, but I'm not a crazy coffee drinker. I love the whole process of manufacturing, it keeps me doing it. I like making different mixes of coffee and experimenting," Nichols said. "I love to cook, I create something different to eat just about every night. I studied studio art and ceramics at the university. I just like making stuff."
Muddy Waters coffee is sold at "The Depot" in Humboldt State University, the cafe at College of the Redwoods, Wildberries, Eureka Natural Foods, several Whole Foods stores in the Bay Area and a myriad of other places throughout the county and state. It's sold to individuals who purchase five pounds or more at a time, and it's even found in cafes and museums in Mississippi and Florida.
"I've spent time with Chris personally and professionally through Humboldt Made, and I think he has a zest for life," said Meredith Maier, co-owner of Six Rivers Brewery, where Muddy Waters coffee is sold alone and infused with beer for the "Paradise Moon Coffee Porter."
Nichols said he loves the small-town feeling of Humboldt County because the area is very supportive of products made here.
"I think some people who go to college here get accustomed to drinking the coffee and get it for their office or work when they move," Nichols said. "The most challenging part is getting the coffee out of the area. That's one of the main reasons I joined Humboldt Made. I know they're really starting to reach out and show off local products to buyers and distributors from other areas."
Muddy Waters will soon move from Eureka to McKinleyville, where Nichols lives. He said he couldn't be more excited.
"I've been working on the move for over a year," Nichols said. "It's a bigger, better building and there's more room to grow."
For more information about Muddy Waters Coffee, visit www.ilovemud.com
Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509 or Jsingh@times-standard.com.
At a glance: Made in Humboldt
Humboldt Made describes itself as "a public benefit corporation focused on business development and cooperative marketing. We are a community of makers and producers. Humboldt Made partners with retailers and restaurateurs, community organizations, media makers institutions, special events and business service providers to build the economy of Humboldt County."
For more information, visit www.humboldtmade.com/