Former QC bean counter now grinds them instead

Sandy Prue owns Fill Your Cup of Coffee, an online-only Queen Creek business that she opened after leaving a 30-year career as an accountant. (Special to the Tribune)

Sandy Prue has always liked coffee as more than an average cup of Joe.

“Growing up I loved the smell of coffee, but it was not until I did a 126-mile relay walk that I started drinking it,” she recalled. “And I lived in Washington State and there are coffee shops on every corner.”

“And I’ve probably gone to almost all of them and I’ve probably tried all the different kinds of coffee kind of searching for that perfect cup of coffee,” she said.

Now Prue lives in Queen Creek and has turned that love of coffee and the quest for the perfect cup into a local business called Fill Your Cup of Coffee.

“I’m a very positive person and I wanted to put a spin on ‘fill your cup with gratitude,’” she said of her inspiration for the company name. Prue came to Arizona not long before the pandemic brought the economy to a screeching halt and with it, her plans to return to the workplace.

Prue decided it was time to go back to work but not in the same field where she spent her career as “an accountant for 30-some years.”

“I decided I am done being an accountant and I want to do something different and not work for someone else and work for myself,” Prue said. “I was kind of done doing taxes and working those long hours. And I love coffee and I thought I could sell it really easily.”

So, she went from counting beans to roasting and selling them.

“I went and researched local roasters in the area around here and I found one and loved it and that’s how I started,” Prue said.

Currently, Fill Your Cup of Coffee is solely an online shop with no brick-and-mortar store yet.

So Prue is hitting the road every weekend and bringing her product directly to local customers.

She wants them to smell, taste and ask questions about the super-smooth, high-end java, rather than just hope people stumble across her website and buy a bag of coffee beans or the other products she sells online.

“I go to markets and I have my coffee in Sip and Shop Arizona at the San Tan Mall, and I sell my bags of coffee in there.” Prue said. “I go to all the farmers markets.”

That’s where Prue thinks she stands to make the most headway, handing out samples to shoppers who may be more apt to try something new when they are at a market and more likely to make an impulse buy, especially on something like gourmet coffee or tea.

“So, I have been to the Apache Junction farmers market, the Mesa swap meet, the Vintage and Vino market at the Queen Creek horse arena three times, a car booth sale in Maricopa. I’ve done one in Scottsdale,” she said.

“So, I go to wherever the markets are and I see which one does well, and if it does well, I keep going back.”

Prue said people who try her coffee and like it at the farmers markets are driving sales on the website.

“My philosophy is that if I hand out samples and usually if they sample it, they will buy a bag. And if they buy it and they like it ,they will go on my website and order it again,” Prue said.

Prue estimates that, depending on the market, she sells between 10 and 40 bags of coffee per day in person, far outpacing her current online sales.

Selling the coffee locally and in person also allows her to save shipping costs, which she said, have become prohibitive to the point that she eliminated the shipping fees for buyers online.

In the new year, however, she said those fees will be added into the price, which currently ranges between $13 and $15 on the website. Prue said she does have a mission beyond simply making a profit, adding that she has always been driven by wanting to be a good community citizen.

“5% of our net profit each month will go to an animal rescue organization.” Prue said. “Each month there will be a vote for where the proceeds will be donated. Volunteering for 9 years at an animal rescue organization, my goal is to continue giving back to the animals in need.”

Prue’s business uses only Fair-Trade coffee, which means that the beans have been audited throughout the supply chain to meet certain sustainability and labor standards.

“By buying Fair Trade we always know where the coffee is grown, who grew it, how they are treated and the benefits they receive through direct trade,” Prue said. “This helps farmers improve their lives, families and community lives.

Prue said coffee shops and retail outlets that sell large volumes of coffee often roast their beans in huge vats at high temperatures to keep up with the demand, but which can result in a bitter beverage.

Prue said her supplier’s approach to not only roasting, but also washing the beans, guards against that.

“When you have a green coffee bean, before it can be roasted you have to wash it, which takes out some of the impurities of it, and if you wash it more it takes out that acidity,” she said.

Prue said her beans are washed

seven times before they are roasted very carefully.

“If the bean is over-roasted you will get that more acidic flavor,” Prue said.

Prue’s goal is to eventually have a brick-and-mortar location in Queen Creek, where she can provide a welcoming space for people and offer them “that perfect cup of coffee and put an extra pep in your step.”