Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Darren Spicer of Clutch Coffee Is Helping To Change Our World

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When I first started out, what inspired me was exceeding the expectations I had for myself to create an incredible company and culture. Now that has grown to also include inspiration from my wife, kids, and family ☺

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Darren Spicer.

Darren Spicer is the CEO & Co-Founder of Clutch Coffee Bar, a premium drive-thru beverage brand based in the Carolinas. A transformative leader, Darren helps companies grow in a way that positively impacts society and cultivates a sense of community. Under his leadership, Clutch has grown rapidly to multiple locations and established a fanatically loyal, recurring customer base through unparalleled customer experience, speed, quality, and investment in local communities and charities.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path and point in your life?

I’ve been in and out of the drive-thru coffee space since 2004. I initially started as a barista and then set my sights on becoming a franchisee with a large drive-thru coffee chain. When they changed their model and no longer offered franchising, that’s when I set out on the path to start CLUTCH. I love the people aspect, growing and inspiring future leaders, giving back to the community, and creating a culture that is second to none!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

We’ve turned down investments from multiple Billionaires. At each point in time, either the fit wasn’t right or the timing was off. Having the right partners is critical.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Great question! I’d say it was probably making the assumption that ‘if you build it, they will come’….when in reality, it takes a lot of planning, marketing, and building relationships in a community to be successful. We worked our asses off to achieve that over time, and it’s exciting to see where things have grown over the last 5 years.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

We aim to be a force for good in each local community. We support a number of causes and try to be very focused on those causes being very impactful in the area where are. We aren’t just a business, but rather we strive to be a positive driving force for the community.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

We were the catalyst that helped lead to the formation of Sheldon’s K9s ( Officer Sheldon was killed in the line of duty in the town we were founded in. Shortly thereafter, we held a fundraiser to help support the K9 program he was passionate about. Since our initial $8K contribution, the organization has received almost $200K in contributions, that are used in a variety of ways to help keep his spirit alive and impact K9s today.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

The biggest thing we believe we can impact is how others experience life by redefining the lost art of customer service. Too many businesses today are merely transactional and have lost the touch of fantastic customer service. Society can help us in this way by:

Pouring into the next generation to help teach them life skills

Placing an emphasis on being ‘present’ in the moment and having genuine conversations

Paying it forward

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think this might help people?

Yes! We are close to launching our own energy drink, which is super exciting! Shortly thereafter will also be the launch of our own ‘CLUTCH Bars.’ This allows us to grow Clutch Cares and serve more communities and people.

What you are doing is not easy. What inspires you to keep moving forward?

When I first started out, what inspired me was exceeding the expectations I had for myself to create an incredible company and culture. Now that has grown to also include inspiration from my wife, kids, and family ☺

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?

Make a Plan B, because Plan A is likely going out the window 2) Choose your partners wisely

Be prepared to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING under the sun

Things always take longer than expected

You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish and the number of people you can impact

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The Power of Positivity and ‘catching someone doing something right.’ Too often I think we focus on the negatives in life, and in an effort to build people up, it’s important to build on the positives and acknowledge the ‘wins.’

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There are two things in life you can always control:

Your Attitude and your Effort.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I think it would be fascinating to have lunch (and golf) with Michael Jordan. To hear firsthand about his journey, his trials and tribulations, his wins, and most importantly, how he has mentally approached life along the way.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

At or on our IG at @clutchcoffeebar. For information on our giveback mission, you can visit our Clutch Cares Page!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Darren Spicer of Clutch Coffee Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.