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Fueled By death cast



Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 155 - Keith Abatto

DEATH WISH COFFEE COMPANY EMPLOYEE SERIES #29

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER - KEITH ABATTO

"It's not how much money you make, it's how much money is spend. It's that simple. " - Keith Abatto, CFO at Death Wish Coffee Company

 

 

PREVIEW:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW

ABOUT KEITH ABATTO:

Meet Keith Abatto, the CFO of Death Wish Coffee Company. Keith has always enjoyed working in finance, but this is the first time he has worked for a company like Death Wish. Hear his journey from college to the workforce and how that inevitably led him to the World's Strongest Coffee. He breaks down his day to day and where he thinks the company is headed. Keith also talks about what fuels him every day and how he has found a new lease on life with exercise and sports.

TRANSCRIPT:

Jeff: Can we talk about what your day-to-day kind of is? What does that mean to be a Financial Officer of a company like ours?

Keith: All right, well thanks for having me on, Jeff. I'm excited to be here. This is not something I do very often, if ever. So what does it mean to be the CFO of Death Wish Coffee, or a CFO anywhere?

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: You know, what comes to mind first is I'm always thinking about how I can help the company make sure we are profitable. And although that may sound greedy, it's not. The more money we can make, the more we can reinvest in the company, different products, more products, things people like to see. So I always want to make sure that we're profitable. I've always got that in the back of my mind all the time.

Keith: And then the other thing is making sure that we do things above board, kind of, good business practices, ethical, moral, sort of like that North Star for the business. In case something ever gets a little bit cloudy, I'd like to think I'm that sort of straight careful type person.

Jeff: So working in an industry like this ... Obviously what you're saying is Business 101. You want to make money and then invest that money to make more money.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: Technically speaking.

Keith: Yeah, yeah!

Jeff: Business 101. And that is your job to keep that going. And in a business like this, have you ... Is this your first time working in the coffee industry in this capacity?

Keith: It is, it is. This is a first for me. I mean, I started out in public accounting and I spent a lot of time at manufacturing companies.

Jeff: Okay.

Keith: But never in a consumer good like coffee. So it's different.

Jeff: So let's walk it all the way back. How long have you been working in finance?

Keith: Ah, let's see, I started in finance in 1993. I graduated in 1993, started working at a small CPA firm in Albany in 1990 when I was a freshman in college. And then I spent ... I was there for three years and then I graduated college and went to work at KPMG, a big, big public accounting firm. So I spent three or four years there, and then ... All-in, I think I've been doing this 26 or 27 years. I went to work for a client of KPMG's, so a manufacturing company in Niskayuna, Environment One. So I spent a big portion of my career there. I was there for about 15 years.

Jeff: Wow. And you went to school, obviously, for this, as well.

Keith: Yeah, I did. I did.

Jeff: So what drew you to this path? What was the spark in your young age where it was like, "You know, this is something I want to pursue"?

Keith: Yeah, it's kind of a different story. It wasn't my first choice.

Jeff: Okay.

Keith: I actually went to school for environmental engineering.

Jeff: Whoa.

Keith: And after a little less than a semester, realized that I was not quite that bright. Engineering's a whole different level of smarts.

Jeff: I get that.

Keith: And so I transferred to Siena, which is a great college, and I switched from engineering to business. And I was basically business undecided, but three months into it, I had an accounting professor say, "Hey, I've got a buddy that owns a CPA firm in downtown Albany. Anybody that's interested, let me know." And I'd love to say I beat out all these people for the job, but I think I was the only guy that was interested. And so I got that job and just started working for this great, small, little company and liked it and just sort of fell into it. It wasn't really planned.

Jeff: Wow. And I mean, what's interesting is, is that it isn't ... I guess it's not, and don't take offense to this, it's not the sexiest of professions when you look at it on paper, but it is 100% needed. And going back to what I said before, it is Business 101. You know? I mean, you need to have your eye on these things, especially whether you're in the consumer goods or not or you're working for accounting firms or whatever it is, you have to be having your eye on that.

Jeff: And what's interesting to me is the amount of time that you've put into this, especially from the '90s, today, has the industry changed? Has finance ... I mean, obviously finance, our finances have. You know? We've went through recessions and the economy has went up and down. But I mean, from your perspective working in this industry, has the industry changed a lot since you started?

Keith: Yeah, I think it has. I mean, it's not a sexy industry, and-

Jeff: I didn't want you to take offense to that.

Keith: No, no, no, I'm not offended. And I mean, it's the ... A lot of times, some people call accountants bean counters and I'm here with a lot of-

Jeff: And you.

Keith: I got a lot of coffee beans!

Jeff: Yay!

Keith: And thankfully, I am not counting them. But yeah, what I think has changed is accounting. And I'd like to say I'm more in finance now than accounting, but accounting has kind of changed from being the scorekeeper only, looking at everything after the fact; to now being more of an advisor or a consultant on how to make the business be a little more efficient, a little more profitable, but more real time and more planning than after the fact just counting the beans when it's all done.

Jeff: I love it.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: I love counting the beans because we are a coffee company. So I mean ... You know what, I know it's not part of your job, but I'm going to talk to the powers that be and get you to count some beans.

Keith: All right, all right.

Jeff: I think we need to work that into your day-to-day.

Keith: Yeah, yeah. Maybe a pound a day. I mean, that job kind of gets a little old, but it's ... You know.

Jeff: I mean, it fits so perfectly now.

Keith: It does.

Jeff: Come on.

Keith: It does, it does. Yeah.

Jeff: So working in the industry for so long, you had never worked for, like you said, a consumer good company like ours. Where did your journey get to to bring you to us? How did you get to the point where you came to Death Wish Coffee?

Keith: Well, I already told you a little bit about my early backgrounds.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: But I started out public accounting; all-in, six or seven years. Then I worked for a couple of different manufacturing companies, Environment One, I mentioned. Environment One was a great company. I learned a lot there. It was an independent, publicly traded company on NASDAQ. It was then purchased by a much larger Fortune 100 company. And a lot of good things come from that.

Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Keith: But that company was run sort of like the stereotypical GE or Danaher type corporation; very, very rigid. Some ways; good, process-orientated, but a little bit rigid. Then from there, I went and worked for a company that was owned by a private equity sponsor for four years. After doing that for many, many, many years, I honestly got a little tired of that regimen and that sort of a little bit uptight type of an atmosphere, and I really wanted to get back to a little smaller company, a company that can kind of make its own rules and just be exciting and have all this growth potential and have passionate people and not layers and layers and layers of people before any decisions can be made.

Jeff: Right.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: Wow. So as a local, too, I love asking this question. I mean, when did you first hear of Death Wish? Do you remember that at all?

Keith: Yeah. I mean, I grew up around here. I pay a lot of attention to the business review, always trying to keep up on all the different rising companies in the area. And I've known of Death Wish for quite awhile. I mean, the company, whoever was involved in it early on got a lot of good coverage, a lot of good press. So I had heard of it early on. I think the Superbowl commercial is what really got my attention, for sure.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: I mean, I can remember where I was watching that commercial getting excited, waiting for it to come on.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: Because there was a lot of hype in the area. You know? So that was the first thing. And then not long after that was coffee going into space. I mean, these are things that they just don't happen. You know?

Jeff: That's true.

Keith: At least not around here. So I knew the company for awhile, and those two big milestones really got my attention.

Jeff: That's awesome.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: So let's go back to your first day on the job at Death Wish. You knew of the company, you knew kind of what our MO was. You obviously saw the commercial, the space stuff and all that stuff. Was it what you'd expected walking in the first day? Was the company what you expected, or were there surprises for you?

Keith: Yeah, there were definitely surprises, for sure.

Jeff: Yeah? Like what?

Keith: I mean, like most people, I did my homework and checked out the website and checked out some of the podcasts and all the cool stuff that the company does. And everything you see, or almost everything you see, is guys and gals, all beards, tattoos, piercings, all kinds of just tough images. You know?

Jeff: Right.

Keith: This real edgy culture. And I was absolutely expecting that when I walked in, day one. And we have a great culture, there's no doubt about it. But what I learned is just how warm and welcoming and soft and nice everybody is. I mean, I was a little worried I may not fit in as the accountant, the ... I have a little beard, now.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: No tattoos, no piercings.

Jeff: Yet.

Keith: And wasn't sure I'd be accepted. And boy, everybody's welcomed me with open arms. It's just been a great year. Yeah.

Jeff: That's awesome.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: From day one to now ... You've been here for over a year? Just about a year?

Keith: Yeah. No, a little over a year.

Jeff: A little over a year.

Keith: In October, yeah.

Jeff: So from day one to now, has ... I'm sure you obviously had to get acclimated and get into the job, but has your job changed at all from that, or is it pretty much what you knew coming into it, like, "This is what I'm going to do"?

Keith: I don't think it's changed a whole lot. It's really the way it was sort of advertised. It's what I talked to Mike and a few other people about before I started. So a little bit of the day to day has changed. We used to outsource a lot of our accounting to a CPA firm down in the Philly area, and we no longer do that. And I was able to hire a great, great resource that I've known for a while. So some of the day to day has changed, but the big picture is really pretty similar to when I first started. But the company's growth; I mean, we are much bigger than we were a year ago.

Jeff: Heck yeah.

Keith: Our sales are much higher than they were a year ago. So although the general vibe is about the same, there's a lot more going on. I mean, there's just unbelievable opportunity.

Jeff: Totally. And you've got help, the amazing Kristen now part of your team, as well.

Keith: Yes, the amazing Kristen.

Jeff: Which is great. So I mean, know with the company growth, like you said it's really awesome to have you as part of the team and to be helming our finances. We need this, like I said.

Jeff: And kind of speaking on that, with Death Wish Coffee in mind, coming from the background that you had, was there anything that was a hurdle for you working, now, in a consumable space? Like working in the finances for a company like ours?

Keith: Yeah. I mean, for me, my biggest challenge was really learning, and I still have a ways to go, but learning how e-commerce works. That's something I really did not have a background in. We've had tremendous growth in grocery stores, wholesale. That, I was very familiar with before I got here. But the e-commerce side is very, very new and different to me. And thinking about how all that works in the third-party logistics, fulfillment centers, all that type of stuff is new to me. Yeah. Yeah, it was a bit of a challenge to get that.

Jeff: But you're getting it.

Keith: I'm getting it, yeah.

Jeff: Which is great.

Keith: Yeah, I'm getting it.

Jeff: And that is something that's very surprising about this company, especially within the last year. A lot of people are seeing us on shelves. A lot of people are seeing us in stores now, whether it's your local grocery store or even Walmart. But we started out predominantly as an e-commerce company. We still put a lot of our eggs in that basket. Number one selling coffee on Amazon consistently. And it is such an odd space, because whereas the shelf in the grocery store kind of stays on that coffee aisle; they might move it around in the grocery store, but there's always a coffee aisle. The e-commerce space is ever-changing. You know?

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: Even look back to a decade ago, Amazon was a bookstore, and that's it. You know?

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: And it's mind blowing to think of the leaps and bounds that that space has changed. And that's what's interesting, I think, about not only our industry, but being someone in your position as well and dealing with that kind of change and learning those types of things.

Keith: Yeah, I mean, people talk about making sure we have the buy box. Before I got here, I didn't know what that meant.

Jeff: Right.

Keith: You know?

Jeff: Right, right.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: And for people who are listening or watching, what that means is if you go to amazon.com, the buy box is, is if you're typing in "strong coffee" or "coffee," or whatever it happens to be, and we're the first one to come up with that box, that's what we want. We want to be the first thing you see. So everybody's vying for that. It's cutthroat out there on the internet.

Keith: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Jeff: It's pretty crazy. So let's get away from the Death Wish Coffee side of it. I want to open up a little bit of Keith. I want to open up a canopy, here.

Keith: Oh, now.

Jeff: And I just want to know outside of the day to day numbers in finance, which you obviously enjoy, because you've been in the industry for a couple of decades.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: If you didn't, you would've quit earlier. But what keeps you going outside of that? Do you have any hobbies or anything that you love to do that's not the 9:00 to 5:00?

Keith: Yeah. I mean, that's a big part of my life, there's no doubt. I mean, I've been in this industry a long time, but I don't think I'm your stereotypical finance, accounting type guy. I mean, I'm all about being active. I mean my family is number one. That is the biggest passion in my life, for sure. But me personally, right now, I'm kind of obsessed with fitness. It was not always that way, but in the last three years, that's kind of dominated my life. You know? I'm 48 and I'm probably in the best shape of my life right now. You know?

Jeff: Way to go, that's awesome!

Keith: Yeah. But that takes a lot of time.

Jeff: What do you think changed for you with that? Because that's something ... Honestly, we are only a decade apart. And we're only a generation apart, and it's something that I wrestle with a lot.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: I'm not as active as I'd like to be, but in the back of my mind it's always like, "Maybe you should be thinking about that." What changed it for you? Where did you get to the point where you we're like, "You know what? I'm going to go all in on this"?

Keith: Yeah. I mean, I was always pretty athletic growing up, always played sports, always had friends and family that played sports. I played football and baseball in high school. I played a little bit of baseball in college. And then got into the working world and like most everybody else, just sort of stopped.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: And got a little bigger than I should have been, and after my kids got a little bit older and started watching me age and I had a little bit of knee surgery and then watching some of my older relatives age, not so gracefully, I just decided that's not going to be me. You know? I'm just not going to let that happen. And I think I just had an annual physical three years ago, and at the time, I wasn't a guy who ever got on a scale, and I was in the doctor's office and I got on the scale and I went, "Holy shit." You know?

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: So that was it. I mean, from that then on in, it was just eat a little bit better each day and go to the gym every day. I probably ... The gym or the basement, I've got some stuff at my house, but I'd probably take maybe a day off a month.

Jeff: Wow.

Keith: If that.

Jeff: That's inspiring.

Keith: And you're supposed to take days off, but I'm afraid if I take too many off, I'll stop.

Jeff: That's always been my problem is, is I will get the urge when everybody does, when we're getting close to that time of year. Like after the first of the year, everybody's like, "New year, new me." And that's usually ... I always fall for that, and I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to start exercising. I'm going to start eating right." You know? And then I take a day off, then I take two days off, then I take four days off, and then it's next year.

Keith: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's easy to do.

Jeff: Yeah, for sure, for sure.

Keith: Very easy to do.

Jeff: So that's very commendable and inspiring for you with that. And that leads me into a little bit of the theme of this show. And you, I think, already answered it, but I want to ask anyways. The theme of this show is we're all fueled by death. That finish line is always there. It's inevitable, but we want to leave this world a little different. We want to do our part in this world before we inevitably leave the world for good. What fuels you to keep being the best you can and doing what you do? What fuels you to do that?

Keith: There's no doubt it's my family.

Jeff: That's a great answer.

Keith: And I mean most people would say something like that. But I'll try and give you a little more insight into that. I was blessed. I still have great parents, great siblings, so a lot of good role models in my life. And my parents, they were old school. They taught me to work hard from a really, really young age. And it used to be work hard in school and then it was work hard in sports, then it was work hard at your freaking paper route, or whatever silly job you had.

Jeff: Right, right.

Keith: And then that just kind of carried over into your first real job, or your career. I've always just been a bit of a .. just somebody who works hard at whatever I do. And it was my career. That was kind of my focus. And then I met my wife, the love of my life. I married Trish in 1995 and-

Jeff: We both have Trishes.

Keith: Yeah, that's right. Your wife's name is Trish. And then we had our first child in 2002, my son Kevin, and my daughter Sarah was born three years later. And there is no doubt, everything I do is all about them. You know?

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: I just absolutely want them to have the best of everything. And me and my wife try hard. You know? We try to make them good young adults. They're now ... What are they? 14 and 17.

Jeff: 14 and 17, wow.

Keith: 14 and 17. And our goal is just for them to be better human beings than we are, and hope that they will make the world a better place, much better than I could. You know?

Jeff: Wow.

Keith: That's it.

Jeff: That's awesome. And that's really inspiring. And it's not a cop out answer, for the family. You know?

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: I mean, family is everything. You know? And one of the things that I love about this job is we all feel like we're family here, which is-

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: You know? It's why we all strive to make Death Wish the best child we possibly can make it, as well.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: Which is really nice.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: Back to the financial side a little bit. And a question I wanted to ask you from someone who has the experience in the field and also has a little bit more experience in the world than, let's say, me; what would you say is your best piece of advice for someone dealing with their own personal finance?

Keith: Ah, that's a good question.

Jeff: Especially in this day and age, because it seems like everything's too expensive, no one has enough money.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: It seems like. And it just seems sometimes the weight of the world is on you. And it's like ... Would you have advice for anybody that might be struggling or that could benefit from something?

Keith: Yeah. I mean, and it's really simple. And I would say I did not always follow this, but it's really simple. It's not how much money you make, it's how much money is spend. It's that simple. You just got to spend less than you make. And as you get a little older, you spend even less and less and less than you make. I wasn't always that way. I am the spender in my family.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: My wife is the thrifty one. But it's all about saving money and just ... It sounds old saying this, living within your means. You know? Don't buy things on credit cards. If you can't pay your credit card bill at the end every month, you got to just start spending less.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: I mean, there's emergencies here and there, but it's pretty simple. Save money, save young, put money in your 401k and watch it grow. And if you do that stuff when you're really young, it's not that hard. But you've got to start young.

Jeff: Yeah. I think the other side of that is, is I think there's no reason not to start at any rate. I can tell you from experience, growing up in the 80s and seeing a lot of older people deal with their finances, I had bad influences. And when I was old enough to have credit, completely fell down that hole. To the point, very badly. Very bad credit. Debt, very bad all of that. And it wasn't until very recently in life that I started to turn that around. And I was looking at it, at one point where being like, "Well, maybe it's too late. Maybe I should have ... If I didn't do this in my twenties, there's nothing I can do." But I can say that I'm not out of the hole, but I'm definitely much closer to the daybreak of the hole than the bottom than I was, which is ... It makes me feel better because at least one day I was like, "Okay, I need to spend less," like you said.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: It made me more in tune with my finances. Because you were saying you're the spender and your wife is a little bit more frugal. That's the problem with me and my wife. We're both the spenders.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: We both ... It's like, "Wait a minute, wait a minute." It's like ... I wish there was one keeping each other in line, but it's always at the point where one of us will be like, "Should we buy that?" And the other one's like, "Yeah. Yeah, buy that! Buy that! Buy two of those!"

Keith: Yeah, right, right.

Jeff: It's terrible, it's terrible.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: Well, that's really good advice. And I think people should ... You're right. It's easy to say. It's hard to do in practice.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: But it is that easy if you just look at it and put a little bit of money aside and don't spend above your means.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: That was a very hard lesson for me to learn, was don't spend above your means.

Keith: I think that's tough for most everybody. And like I said, I was lucky. I grew up with really good parents ... And I'll tell this story. It made me crazy when I was a kid. I started my first paper route when I was 11.

Jeff: Okay.

Keith: And that was a big thing for many years. You know? And collecting was a royal pain in the ass. But I made a little bit of money doing that. The crazy thing is from day one, my mom and dad made me take half of everything I make and it went in the bank for college. And I hated that.

Jeff: Wow.

Keith: I mean, I hated that.

Jeff: Of course.

Keith: And by the time I was 18, it added up to like, I don't know, $4,000.

Jeff: Right.

Keith: I wasn't that much money, but it was kind of that principle. And man, I hated it. And every now and then I'd sneak a little money here and there. You know, I mean-

Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Keith: But it was a valuable lesson, as much as I hated it.

Jeff: Yeah. No, I mean, that's good on them for doing it.

Keith: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jeff: But I'm totally with you. I would've been so mad about that.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: So back on the Death Wish side, as we're getting to the end, here. I wanted to ask ... This is a question I have been starting to ask a lot of the employees here, especially with this perspective of coming in as the company has been growing and have been here now with a little bit of perspective. You've been here for over a year and you've seen us grow, and just in this last year, like we talked about, we're much more in the grocery space now. We have new products like our cold brew, our new instant coffee, these types of things are going to help us grow even farther.

Jeff: You have an eye directly on our finances and how we're doing on a day to day, month to month, year to year basis. Where do you think we're going? Where do you think ... And I'm not looking for a numerical value; I'm just saying you and your gut feeling, where do you think Death Wish will be in three years or in five years?

Keith: I don't know about three or five years, but we joke about it a little bit around here. It's like world domination. I mean, there's no reason this company can't just keep exploding. I mean, it started with every-commerce and great success in the last two years with wholesale or grocery store chains. And then we introduced cold brew. And today, we launched instant coffee.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: I think we can expand our product lines and just keep growing within the United States. But then there's a whole big world out there, and we're not really even scratching the surface yet. We sell a tiny bit on Amazon internationally. We're getting some e-commerce going in China right now, but-

Jeff: Very exciting.

Keith: Which is fantastic, but when I think of how well we've done in the US and the fact that I know we can continue to grow in the US, if we ever slow down in the US, we can just copy what we've done here all across the world.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: I mean, the coffee drinking population just keeps growing.

Jeff: It really does. And I look at it, too, I always make the joke that we're going to caffeinate the world.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: World domination. I always make that joke. And so many people who are die hard Death Wish fans; I'll always say the biggest swear word in coffeedom is Starbucks. And they're always like, "Ah," you know, like, "Whatever on Starbucks." And I always correct them on that, because when you look at Starbucks, that's the model that, of course, we want to strive to. I'm not saying we want Death Wish stores on every block in every city in the world, but before Starbucks, you go back 50 years in America, let's go back 50 years, coffee culture was predominantly an instant coffee culture. My grandmother, until she died, even always had that can of Maxwell House Instant in her cupboard, and that was the culture of the coffee industry. That was how people consumed it, that's what they wanted.

Jeff: Here comes this subversive, third-wave coffee company named Starbucks who was like, "We're going to change the game." And now look at them.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: That's world domination. They are literally on pretty much every major street corner in the world now.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: Which is crazy. And I don't think that that is unattainable for what we've built.

Keith: No, I agree with you. I mean, there's no reason. And I don't know the ... I don't know about every street corner, but I think-

Jeff: Right.

Keith: But I think we can have that type of reach, however that is, whether it's in grocery stores or e-commerce. But I think we can go from that kind of on the fringe type of company that a lot of people know about, but not everybody; to being like Starbucks.

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: Just a name everybody can relate to.

Jeff: Yeah. Yeah, I'm excited for it. I really am.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: All right. So final question, and you have to answer truthfully.

Keith: Oh boy.

Jeff: Death Wish Coffee or Valhalla?

Keith: Death Wish Coffee. For sure.

Jeff: Right off the bat.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: No hesitation.

Keith: No hesitation.

Jeff: Why?

Keith: Why?

Jeff: Yeah.

Keith: I just like the taste a little bit better.

Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Keith: And then I like the little extra kick. I mean, we're not going to talk milligrams of caffeine, but the original Death Wish is just a bit stronger, and-

Jeff: It is.

Keith: And I want that stronger coffee. And I can say that as a guy who never drank coffee until I started working here.

Jeff: Whoa, really?

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: At all?

Keith: Not at all.

Jeff: Was it just because you didn't like the taste?

Keith: I'm kind of weird. I didn't ... No hot liquids. I don't know.

Jeff: No hot liquids.

Keith: It wasn't even a taste thing. I was all about cold soda, cold water, cold ... No-

Jeff: So caffeine mostly was like a soda kind of [crosstalk 00:26:47]

Keith: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I didn't even like hot chocolate. You know? Just-

Jeff: Wow.

Keith: Yeah, kind of weird.

Jeff: I mean, honestly, I've heard that before.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: It's not super weird, but usually people are just like ... Because coffee is that type of beverage where it's like scotch, you know? It's like you either like it or you hate it because of the taste of it. You know?

Keith: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jeff: And it's the same thing with coffee. And so it's interesting that that was why; it's because of the hot beverage.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: So did you just force yourself because you've got a job at Death Wish? Was that kind of deal?

Keith: Well, yeah. I mean, it wasn't even like I had to force myself. I'm just like, "Well, let me try this. I mean, hot, cold, what the hell is the difference?" I said, "I'll give it a try."

Jeff: Right.

Keith: And man, I loved the taste, and then I loved the little kick. And it's like, "How did I live without this," you know?

Jeff: And now your body's like, "I can't live without it!"

Keith: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I mean, we've got, obviously, plenty of it going here all day, every day. Weekends are a little weird if I don't get up, and if, for some reason, I don't have that coffee within reach, it's a weird start to a day.

Jeff: It is, it is.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: And there are sometimes where my wife and I will get up on a weekend and we got stuff to do and we'll get out of the house and we'll be out doing stuff and then we'll get back and we'll be like, "Why? Why do we feel like death?" And it's like, "Oh, we haven't had any coffee yet today."

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: It's like ...

Keith: My wife, my kids mock me. I'm now that guy that calls the hotel before I travel, "Do you have little K-cup machines in the rooms?"

Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Keith: "I need to know what to bring."

Jeff: It's the truth. It's the truth. Now that we have our instant coffee.

Keith: Yeah, I can bring the instant coffee.

Jeff: It's even better. But I've told this story a couple of times on the show. A lot of the traveling that I first did with this company ... Before working for this company, I was a chef. I worked in the food service industry for the better part of 20 years, so I rarely traveled. It was six days a week, 12 hour days. I was never out of the area. So working in this company, I started to do a lot more travel. And I wasn't used to ... I traveled as a kid, but I wasn't used to traveling on my own, so I would never bring coffee. And I would never think to call the hotel and stuff like that.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: And then it got to the point where, when Dustin, our Logistics Manager and I would go out on different events and stuff like that, we would make sure logistically all the coffee's ready for the event. Everything's been double checked and triple checked and everything's getting shipped out. And we get to the hotel and we check in the hotel and we're like, "Damn it, we didn't bring any coffee for ourselves!"

Keith: That's going to be terrible.

Jeff: Every single time. So now, after years of training myself, I do the same thing. I make sure to get ahold of the hotel.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: And I'm like, "What kind of coffee maker do you have? What can I work with, here?"

Keith: And the crazy thing is a lot of times they don't know!

Jeff: Exactly. That's a very important question.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: That's awesome. Well, Keith, it was a lot of fun talking with you and getting to know, really about your job and your background and everything. And that's why I love putting out these episodes, because not only does our fan base get to meet everybody who works for Death Wish, but I get to know more about the employees that I work with, too. And so it's a boon for me, as well. So thank you so much for being on the show.

Keith: Yeah. No problem, man. It was fun.

Jeff: Awesome, awesome.