Kirkland Signature is Costco’s proprietary brand, known for providing high quality products at a great value. Kirkland coffee has become one of the most popular Kirkland Signature items, with its affordability and comparable taste to leading national brands. But what company is behind the Kirkland coffee found on Costco shelves? Let’s take a closer look.
The Origins of Kirkland Coffee
Costco introduced the Kirkland Signature line in 1995, though coffee wasn’t part of the initial product offerings. It didn’t take long for coffee to join the Kirkland family. By the early 2000s, Costco was selling coffee beans, ground coffee, and K-cups under the Kirkland name. The Kirkland coffee line has expanded over the years to include a range of roasts, flavors, and origins.
While Costco manages the Kirkland brand, including product development, packaging design, and quality control, they don’t actually produce the coffee themselves. The Kirkland coffee sold at Costco warehouses is sourced from various third-party roasters and manufacturers depending on the specific product.
Identifying the Roasters
Figuring out exactly who roasts and packages Kirkland coffee can be tricky. Costco does not publicly disclose their suppliers of store brand products like Kirkland. However, over the years, coffee aficionados and industry insiders have been able to piece together the roasters behind many Kirkland coffee offerings.
The save money ethos behind Kirkland products means that Costco will switch suppliers over time if another roaster can offer better pricing or quality. The sourcing for a particular Kirkland coffee product can change from year to year or even batch to batch in some cases. However, a few major roasters have emerged over time as the most common and consistent sources for Costco’s Kirkland coffee lineup.
The Major Kirkland Coffee Roasters
Here are some of the major roasters that have been identified as sourcing and producing Kirkland coffee products:
- Starbucks – Starbucks has been tied to various Kirkland medium roast coffee beans and ground coffees. The Starbucks-roasted Kirkland coffee is nearly identical to Starbucks’ own Pike Place roast.
- Kraft – Kraft’s Maxwell House division produces some of Costco’s mass market Kirkland coffee offerings, including pre-ground cans and bags of house blend coffee.
- Supreme Bean – This Canadian coffee company handles various organic, fair trade, and specialty Kirkland coffees sold in Canada. They supply both beans and ground coffee.
- Rogers Family Company – This California roaster handles some US specialty and organic Kirkland coffees, like the USDA organic house blend.
- Costco Coffee Roasters – Costco operates their own coffee roastery in Washington state which supplies some Kirkland coffee products sold on the west coast.
In addition to these major players, smaller regional roasters like Camano Island Coffee Roasters have also been associated with certain Kirkland coffees over the years.
Kirkland Coffee Roasting Locations
The various Kirkland coffee roasters detailed above each have their own production facilities and roasting operations. Here is an overview of where some of the key Kirkland coffee suppliers are roasting their beans:
- Starbucks – Starbucks has major US roasting facilities in Kent, Washington, York, Pennsylvania, and Augusta, Georgia. Kirkland coffees roasted by Starbucks likely come from one of these roasteries.
- Kraft/Maxwell House – The Maxwell House division of Kraft operates two major US coffee plants in Jacksonville, Florida and San Leandro, California.
- Supreme Bean – This roaster’s main facility is located in Burnaby, British Columbia in Canada.
- Rogers Family Company – This roaster is located in San Leandro, California and also operates a roastery in the UK.
- Costco Coffee Roasters – Costco’s own dedicated roastery is located in Seattle, Washington.
Knowing where these mass roasters operate gives some indication of where the respective Kirkland coffees are being processed and packaged before making their way to Costco warehouses.
Kirkland Organic Coffee Sources
In addition to the major commercial coffee companies, Costco also partners with smaller-scale specialty roasters for certain Kirkland organics, fair trade, and sustainable coffees. Some examples include:
- Cafe Altura – This Vancouver roaster supplies some organic and fair trade certified Kirkland beans.
- Green Mountain Coffee – They source some certified sustainable Kirkland coffee products.
- Cameron’s Coffee – An Alberta roaster providing some organic Kirkland coffee beans.
These specialty roasters help Costco offer quality sustainable and ethical coffees under the Kirkland brand at affordable prices. The sources for these limited batch coffees can shift from season to season.
What About Kirkland K-Cups?
One of Costco’s most popular Kirkland coffee lines is their range of single-serve coffee pods compatible with Keurig brewers. The giant retailer entered the single-serve market in 2010 with Kirkland Signature K-Cups.
The manufacturing process behind K-cups adds another layer to identifying the exact sources of Kirkland coffee pods. While the roasting may still be handled by one of the major suppliers like Starbucks or Kraft, the K-cups themselves are made and packaged by other large specialists like DPS and Club Coffee.
These producers essentially buy bulk roasted coffee from roasters and then portion, pack, and seal the coffee into K-cups in their own production facilities. So the roaster behind Kirkland K-cup coffees may not match the K-cup manufacturer.
Major Kirkland K-Cup Manufacturers
- DPS – A global K-cup producer, DPS likely assembles Costco’s Starbucks-branded Kirkland K-cups.
- Club Coffee – A major Canadian K-cup company, they manufacture a number of Kirkland coffee pod varieties.
- Solimo – Amazon’s private label, Solimo also produces certain Kirkland K-cup pods.
Kirkland K-cups often don’t specify details about their enclosed coffee’s origins or roasters. But by keeping tabs on packaging formats and production codes, insiders have pieced together the likely sources for many of Costco’s single-serve coffees.
Recent Changes and Additions
Costco frequently adjusts their Kirkland coffee offerings to provide new varieties and take advantage of coffee production innovations. Here are some of the newer and limited edition products they’ve rolled out recently:
- Decaf coffees – New decaf options including whole bean, ground, and K-cups have appeared under the Kirkland brand.
- Light roast – A lightly roasted breakfast blend bean was introduced to complement the existing medium roast.
- Bolder body K-cups – Special “extra bold” K-cup pods offer a darker, full-bodied brew.
- Cold brew packs – Pre-portioned cold brew coffee bags for immersive or cold water preparation.
Costco has to balance consumer demand for variety with the logistics of frequently shifting coffee sources. But the continuing growth of Kirkland coffee shows they are finding ways to expand their offerings.
To recap the major points on Kirkland coffee’s supply chain:
- Starbucks, Kraft Maxwell House, Supreme Bean, Rogers Family Company, and Costco’s own in-house roastery are frequent Kirkland coffee suppliers.
- Both major commercial roasters and smaller specialty roasters source Kirkland coffees.
- K-cups involve additional manufacturers for production while still using the same major coffee suppliers.
- Organic and sustainable Kirkland coffees are sourced from specialty roasters like Cafe Altura and Cameron’s.
- The exact supplier for a specific Kirkland coffee can vary and change over time.
While the precise origins remain intentionally opaque, it’s clear that Costco works hard to provide quality Kirkland coffee sourced from major industry players yet still sold at a competitive value. This balance has helped make Kirkland one of the most popular store brands across all of Costco’s products.
Kirkland coffee has earned a reputation among Costco members as a great-tasting product at a great price point. While Costco does not openly disclose the exact companies behind their store brand coffees, diligent reporting has revealed the roster of roasters responsible for sourcing, roasting, and packaging the various Kirkland labeled brews lining Costco shelves. Major players like Starbucks, Kraft’s Maxwell House, Supreme Bean, Rogers Family Company, and Costco’s own roastery have all been identified through industry channels as recurring Kirkland coffee suppliers. The use of both major commercial roasters and smaller specialty roasters allows Costco to offer wide variety coupled with value pricing. Sourcing coffees from different vendors over years and batches further keeps costs low. This multi-vendor strategy has made the Kirkland coffee offerings emblematic of Costco’s obsession with delivering quality while maintaining affordability across their diverse range of store brand products.