Pet Tales: Pittsburgh's Grounds & Hounds coffee helps save pets

Brown spots speckle the white body of an amber-eyed Dalmatian named Molly, and Molly and her spots adorn every bag of fair trade organic coffee sold by Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co.

Molly was rescued in California five years ago by Jordan Karcher, a 2005 graduate of Shaler Area High School. He saw her at a Dalmatian adoption event in Santa Monica when she was 8-months-old, infested with ticks and a very skinny 20 pounds. When she climbed into his lap, he knew he had to have her.   

Two years later, when Molly was a healthy 44 pounds, he started his own company, now based in Lawrenceville, where he could combine his love of dogs with his love of coffee.

“EVERY POUND SAVES A HOUND”  is emblazoned on the bags because 20 percent of proceeds are donated to animal shelters and rescue organizations. 

A total of $85,000 has been donated to 20 organizations across the country. Locally $5,000 has gone to Humane Animal Rescue, Animal Friends and some smaller organizations.

Grounds & Hounds was started March 21, 2014, while Mr. Karcher was getting his MBA degree at Notre Dame. He and Molly worked in South Bend, Ind., for a while and then in Nashville, Tenn., before moving back to Pittsburgh a year ago.

Mr. Karcher  and Molly live in the Strip District and work in a second floor office at 3803 Butler St. in Lawrenceville. 

On a recent day they took a work break at the sidewalk tables of Piccolo Forno, the restaurant below their office.

Molly sat nicely under the table, wagging her tail at the dogs and people who walked by. Some of them stopped to pet her. Some are “regulars” that she knows well because they live or work nearby.

Mr. Karcher admits that taking his dog to work every day was a perk that he wanted.

Grounds & Hounds is doing well, he said, growing at 45 percent a year. “We’ve sold 60,000 pounds of coffee in the last 2½ years.”

The company includes Mr. Karcher, one local employee, some part-timers and Tom Dotray, who does the roasting in Minneapolis. And then there’s Molly, whose image is on the mugs, hats and T-shirts sold, along with the coffee, on the website.

Grounds & Hounds can also be purchased at Giant Eagle Market District stores and at the Humane Animal Rescue pet supplies shop at the new shelter in Homewood. Complimentary cups of the brew are served at the shelter’s cafe.

In keeping with the spirit of Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co., many of the flavors are canine-themed, like the Sit and Stay Blend. It’s described as a medium roast with beans from Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Peru, with “aromatic notes of milk chocolate and clove ... marshmallow ... and subtle hints of black cherry.”

The Paper and Slippers Blend  has “hints of brownie and toasted nuts ... followed by blackberry and blueberry on the finish.”

A bag of coffee, whole beans or ground, is generally $14. For $26 you can get a three-blend starter kit with the Alpha Blend Dark Roast, Paper and Slippers Medium Roast and Morning Walk Breakfast Blend. 

Molly often accompanies Mr. Karcher and the coffee to sites such as the Farmers Market in Lawrenceville and recent OpenStreetsPGH activities on the North Side. 

Grounds & Hounds is now a co-sponsor, along with Rachael Ray Nutrish, at Pup Nights at PNC Park. Dogs socialize with dogs while some of them even watch the Pirates play baseball. Mr. Karcher is not able to hand out free brewed coffee, but he does give away 2½-ounce samples of Grounds & Hounds.

Pup Nights are always on Tuesdays. The remaining games are July 18, Aug. 1, 8 and 22, and Sept. 5, 19 and 26. 

Go to to get tickets, which are $35 for one person and one dog.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-3064 or on Facebook.