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A Cold Approach to Coffee Heats Up

Want a new way to enjoy your coffee fix? 40BelowJoe based in Carbondale, Illinois, may provide just the jolt. The innovative new espresso-based coffee products are the latest debut from Curt Jones, creator and former owner of Dippin’ Dots®.

This is not your parents’ coffee. 40BelowJoe is brewed from high quality Arabica beans and cryogenically frozen at its freshest point at -320° F. That process helps the coffee beads maintain their original moisture content and capture the beans’ rich aroma and flavor until you are ready for a cup – hot or cold.

These frozen beads of coffee (and creamer) come in standard flavors including French Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Mocha, Vanilla and Hazelnut as well as popular seasonal additions like Pumpkin Spice and Peppermint Mocha.

“My wife is a big coffee drinker, but I’m more of an iced-tea person myself,” laughed Curt. “The kids who grew up on Dippin’ Dots are now going to Starbucks. With 40BelowJoe, we are able to give them the best of both worlds.”

One of those kids was Tracey Jones, who was five when her father captivated the market with Dippin’ Dots®. Today, she is a majority owner of 40BelowJoe and works closely with Curt to usher in a whole new line of frozen beaded products.

Southern Illinois Roots

Curt Jones, an SIU Carbondale alumni who serves on the board for Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, created the Beaded Distribution, LLC, in 2015 at the Small Business Incubator there on the campus of SIU. 40BelowJoe’s manufacturing facility is also on SIU’s campus in the Research Park and employs 15 people.

The company capitalizes on SIU’s deep R&D resources and seeks out opportunities to utilize the southern Illinois workforce as well as natural benefits of the area – like the abundance of area orchards for potential fruit-based products.

“I grew up in southern Illinois – an environment where you had to work hard to make something happen,” Curt said. “It prepared me well because being in business can be extremely hard, even in the best of times. But you must stay nimble. Pivot when you need to pivot. Be open-minded when you need to try new things.”

2020 Challenges

40BelowJoe had just been delivered to theme parks when COVID-19 struck. The 40BelowJoe team pivoted quickly to online sales and online marketing.

“Like everyone else – you get hit with something, you have to figure out a new direction,” Curt said. “We sold to hospital gift shops and cafeterias, grocery stores that were still open. We are still trying out new locations.”

Tracey agrees that 2020 has created unique obstacles for them and other start-up businesses. She just texted some of their staff thanking them for persevering through the tough times and staying loyal to the brand.

“I know it’s not easy right now” she said. “But I encourage others to stay grateful. Think outside the box for new ways to sell and advertise your products. Communication is key and so is asking questions and expressing concerns.”


Fast Facts about Curt Jones

· 60 years old

· Grew up in Grand Chain, Illinois

· Played baseball for Shawnee College

· Graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale

· Inspired by Michael T. Madigan; SIU Professor and Distinguished Scholar, Emeritus, Dept. of Microbiology

· Founded Dippin’ Dots® in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1988

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