How Boston’s Coffee Guru Creates Community Within our Community

This is a guest post by Gabriela Antunes, growth marketing manager at LeanBox. Thanks for your contribution, Gabriela! 



“It’s so good to see you!”

“You’re awesome!”

If you hang with Erik Modahl for a day, you will hear these words. His glee is contagious.

And you’ll realize he’s not just about coffee. I mean, he’s rocking coffee for sure. But His life motto is “to build community” everywhere he goes. And coffee gathers people. It’s a tool to build community and a thriving workforce. And Erik gets that:

“From the minute Erik became a part of our community, he prided himself on understanding and memorizing [our] values. He has always maintained that the goal…[is] to foster community. This is very important to Greentown Labs because our community is what makes us unique and it’s why employees are excited to go to work everyday.”

How does Erik get people excited to come to work everyday? Let’s start with Erik’s story to fill you in.

Coffee roots that run deep

Erik has worked for over 30 years in the coffee industry. He’s a veteran of the BostonbeaN Coffee Company, which dominates the corporate coffee market. They’ve been serving coffee in Boston’s corporate workplace for 50 years. Basically, if you’ve had coffee at work, BostonbeaN Coffee Company supplies it.

Which means, you’ve probably seen Erik at some point. He worked every route, conversing with every BostonbeaN Coffee Company customer.

Plus, he’s wasn’t just the “coffee delivery guy” or the “account manager.” He’s Erik. He’s the person who’s happy to see you. The one who knows a lot about coffee so he can give you exactly what you want.

His customer-centric approach

During his tenure at BostonbeaN Coffee Company, he tried anything to accommodate customer needs. He found unique ways to deliver coffee service in the workplace. He did things that don’t scale. Things like a curated pour-over bar or serving coffee at the elevator with a nitro-coffee backpack.

Erik strongly believes that delighting customers isn’t about doing things that scale. It’s about being customer-centric. This focus is the key to his unique touch.

And the more customer-centric coffee programs he rolled out, the more Erik felt inspired to start his own project. So Erik started beantrust about a year ago. He’s impacting workplace culture through curated coffee programs. From large-scale 200 person events, to intimate coffee tastings, to weekly coffee delivery and set-up, Erik’s does it all.

Companies tap Erik to consult them through new in-house coffee experiences. Need a cold brew program? He was the first to market cold brew to the workplace. From sourcing raw material to bringing cold coffee to market, Erik draws on his relationships with manufactures and service delivery companies to craft a completely curated program for your community’s needs.

“Since beantrust partnered with Greentown Labs, we have seen consumption of coffee nearly triple. Every day, a different member company lets Greentown or Erik know how much they appreciate the new set-up. The coffee is fresher, thanks to biweekly deliveries and frequent on-site grinding, and much better, thanks to Erik’s connections.” -Greentown Lab

Erik’s philosophy for a thriving workplace

Erik’s formula for building an engaged workforce is simple: Lead with generosity. He’s a big proponent of thriving workplaces. And works with companies to build trust with employees. Because when employees trust, they’re engaged.

Coffee has intrinsic value in improving someone’s day. It’s the small details like these that have the potential to create trust and create an engaged workforce.

Clues to generosity are everywhere. Look for ways to add personal touches that will improve someone’s day, like the type of coffee your company offers. If you’re in charge of workplace community, you get a beatdown from the top and the bottom; you haven’t had a win in some time. But coffee is an easy win.

“Leading with generosity is the formula for building workplace community” -Erik Modahl

IMG_20160601_134314.jpg“Erik has a great understanding of our needs. As a startup-run incubator, we don’t have a lot of resources available to us. We made the decision to move beyond our previous cost-effective vendor and towards better quality coffee. Erik has constantly been receptive toward our financial constraints and continues to think of innovative solutions. He recently incorporated a single brew prototype that is beautiful (and seen in the attached picture). Erik helped us take this even a step further, incorporating our sustainability initiative, “Leave No Trace” campaign and sourcing organic or fair trade coffee.” – Cayman, Marketing & Operations Associate at Greentown Labs.