The logo for the blend named after monte, one of 75 cool beans blends
The house coffee brand from crystal rock
One of the great things about this business is that you get to work with such a cross section of people. There are very few who know exactly who they are, have no ego about them, and don't realize the respect they've earned. Gene Monte was one of those people. In fact, he was all of them.
Gene started at Crystal Rock in 1950, when it was just a garage office with a handful of water delivery trucks. The story goes, in fact, that he used to change the diapers of current Crystal Rock CEO Peter Baker – literally. From what we can see, he may have individually known more about the water and coffee business than many companies. His induction into the National Beverage and Products Association Hall of Fame seems to support our observation.
When we showed recommendations for the Cool Beans coffee brand - with buzzing bees made out of coffee, bold cross hatched colors, and strong copywriting – Gene was baffled. He explained that he had been in the business for decades, even handling the marketing for Crystal Rock for many of those years, and just thought the position was "too much" for the traditional members of the audience. Maybe so, so we paired down some of the elements before launching the brand. Gene probably hated it, but knew exactly who he was, had no ego about it – and didn't realize the respect he'd earned, by challenging our thoughts and making them stronger.
As we started naming and branding the core Cool Beans coffee blends, both Worx and Crystal Rock were resolute – we were going to name one of the blends after Gene. Our first name idea was Gene Machine, and had a coffee bean person in full sprint as its logo. Gene, knowing exactly who he was and having no ego about it, thought the name was too much. So we arrived at Gene's Beans – but insisted he let us release the blend as a homage.
When we presented the new Cool Beans brand in Saratoga Springs, New York, to Crystal Rock sales managers, Joe Gugliotti, Chris Mitchell and Grant Copeland were having a drink with Gene in the bar after the presentation (he drank water) and Gene said, "This is all very exciting." Copeland said, "And what do you think about having a blend named after yourself?'"
Gene just smirked, proud maybe, but sheepish. Says Copeland, smiling, "He might have said that it was 'nice.' Then again, I don't know if he ever really answered me."
Gene Monte passed away as we were writing this. He will forever be remembered for his grace, knowledge and good spirit.