Posts in General Updates
First Employee, Partnerships, and Shop Update

It's quite humorous to look back at this post I wrote a year ago in July of 2017. I thought we were close to securing a storefront and that things were crazy then; if we only knew. But that's a huge reason we decided to chronicle things this way. It's too easy to forget things or create a biased perspective of how something happened. Writing about things as they occur not only allows people be a part of the experience but also provides an honest recap to look back on down the road.

Quick Recap Since We Last Wrote

I have started and re-started this post more times than I can count over the past few months. I wanted to provide more info but some things with other businesses over the last six months needed to be kept under wraps, some things were up in the air, and other times I was just too exhausted or defeated to write. It has been an insane roller coaster ride to say the least. Depending on the week, I may have written an update on anything ranging from buying a shop space to renting to nothing, starting back at square one. But through all that there have also been a lot of positive things and great relationships cultivated.

First Employee, Partnerships, and Shop Update

One of the relationships we have had a great time growing is with The Chocolate Moose Bakery. The owners and employees are awesome, not to mention that they make some amazing confections and savory things baked fresh daily. If you haven't checked out their bakery inside of M. Judson bookstore, you definitely should, and grab a cup of Bridge City Coffee while you're there. It has been great operating our mobile cart on their steps every Saturday during the downtown market, which has allowed us to hire our first employee! Brandon has been consistently working every weekend with us as well as roasting regularly with Jon. Not to mention he's a great artist and poet, check him out on instagram @seabrooks84. We have formed some other key partnerships that I'll write more on later as we solidify the details. A couple are local here in Greenville and a couple are going more in depth with some farm relationships.

Well, I can't hold back from writing about it anymore. If any of you know me you know when I get excited I'm like a four year old waiting to open a Christmas present. We're opening a shop soon!! In complete opposition to the last six months in general, this happened quicker and easier than we could have anticipated. We have a long way to go but started ripping out some walls and drop ceiling in the main dining area last week and it felt great. We'll be writing more details and posting new pictures soon so watch instagram for that.

 

Struggles, Apologies, and Exciting News!

 "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of it, not the absence of it." - Mark Twain

Apologies

I think I may institute a policy of sending out free bags of coffee to everyone subscribed to this blog when I don't follow through with writing when I say I will. Maybe then I'll be more prompt with writing...maybe. My apologies for not writing when I said I would. While I could simply go in and erase the part in the last entry where I said I would write the following week, I won't. Doing that wouldn't be staying true with chronicling the good, the bad, and the embarrassing. Let's just pretend I said I would write a month after the last entry rather than a week.

Struggles

The last month was more difficult than we expected it to be. After deciding not to open the shop when/where we were planning and wrapping up our first huge wholesale order things seemed to aimlessly float around in front of me. I do my best when there are challenges to overcome, clear goals to achieve, and lots of work to be done. The challenge of the last month was learning to be ok with not opening a shop in the foreseeable future, which is something I was not expecting to deal with. It was more of an intangible, personal thing to overcome rather than a concrete problem that can be solved by cleverness or hard work. Give me a tangible, impossible challenge to solve any day rather than having to deal with my own faults and weaknesses. But as Mark Twain points out, true courage is not founded in ignoring or suppressing things. It's found in looking challenges/fears/shortcomings in the face and taking steps forward to overcome and own them rather than letting them own you. "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25

Exciting News (about a store)

Anyway, enough personal rambling. On to the exciting stuff. I'll write more details as things begin to solidify, but it seems that after deciding not to open a shop the way we were expecting (with some difficult lag time in between) we're back on track to open one in a different way! Jon and I have had series of meetings with a group that wants to open a coffee shop and bakery combo. The great thing for us is that they want to fund and own the shop but have a professional baker running the bakery and coffee pros (enter Bridge City) running the coffee portion of it. It's not the exact location we were expecting with our own shop, but it's still a great one! This would be different than we originally anticipated doing on our own but there are some huge positives along with those differences. As before I'm writing as things happen, which means I will either reveal more about this as it happens or come back with another cue the Charlie Brown mopey theme music post about how things didn't work out. Either way, come back for more reading and try to spread the word about what we're doing, we'd really appreciate it!

Overdue Update

Good grief, where to begin? We began this blog to chronicle what happens with Bridge City Coffee as it is being built. The point being to accomplish something fairly unique in that the outcome of what we are trying to accomplish is still unknown and we are updating you on things as they occur. You can read more about that in this post here. Since we began, this is the first major thing to happen that we hadn't been planning on. 

Since I last wrote we wrapped up our first big wholesale order, a potential collaboration with a really cool business in our roasting space is in the works, I’ve experienced a death in the family and had multiple family members with serious health issues, we decided to not open the shop right now and instead ramp up our roasting and mobile operations, which is a great thing, Jon and his wife took a trip to Iceland, my wife finally moved here permanently from Denver, and we’re going to start working with an all female farm from Rwanda...I think that covers most of the major reasons I haven’t written for much longer than anticipated. Oh yeah, and Game of Thrones has been incredible. 

During our last entry we were moving forward with opening the shop and things were trending in a good direction to do so. That trend continued. However, we realized that if we opened the shop now it would require us to spread ourselves very thin risking the quality of what we want to do for quantity. It was a difficult decision to make given how much both Jon and I, but more so myself, want to open a shop. To be clear, it is in no way a decision to not open a shop at all. Rather, given the unique model we are building, we are postponing it until our operations and finances are more established and fine-tuned.  Business growth is a tricky thing. Grow too fast and often the intended identity of your business is compromised. As a result, the mission, core values, and culture are never truly established the way you originally believed they should have been. Conversely, if you grow too slowly and avoid taking any chances you run the risk of not growing your customer base or income enough to make it to the next level. 

If our goal was simply to make money and grow a brand, opening the shop now would have made sense; but we want to do more than that, much more. To impact people’s lives – our employees, the farms we source from, partner organizations in the community, and of course our customers – our growth will have to be more calculated and steady. If you know me, this is something completely contrary to my preferred mode of operating and honestly quite difficult to do. But here we are walking down the path we’ve chosen at the first big fork in the road for Bridge City. It definitely won’t be the last big decision we have to make, but there is always more weight and gravity that come along with first of anything – the first day of high school or college, the first year of marriage, realizing the kid you just had isn’t going away for at least another 18 years, deciding to bend the knee to Daenerys, or any number of other big decisions. I'll write more about what our operations will look like focusing on roasting and pop-up events in the next post, which will be sometime next week.

Storefront

I was a bit ambitious with my goal for writing twice a week. Plus, I don't think anyone wants their inboxes filled that much, so keeping it closer to once a week is a win win for everyone.

Storefront Update

I'll jump right in and get to the update. Things have continued to move at a rapid pace, which I actually prefer. But it's a handful to keep up with at times. Calvin and Hobbes was one of my favorite things to read growing up. There are moments I get a mental picture of Calvin and Hobbes bouncing down a hill in their wagon. Despite racing down the hill at a crazy speed they're somehow able to maintain control, though often crashing at the bottom. All of this while one of them is usually pondering some deep, contemplative thought. That's a comical snapshot of how things have been going, minus the crash at the bottom.

We have had meetings with our interior designer, contractor, as well as a coffee shop expert at the location we want to secure. Surprisingly all of them have been overwhelmingly positive. The only issue at this point is financing, which is a big thing. While we have a great investor willing to come on board, it would likely only be half of what we need to build out the space, buy all the necessary equipment, and have some operating capital left over. One positive is that we now know a more concrete idea of what we will need since we have specific numbers from the rental agency, contractor, and interior designer. Previously we were just making best guesses.

We're trying keep things in a healthy perspective and not lose site of the forest through the trees. Our goals will remain the same whether we are able to secure this location or not and we're excited to see how that unfolds.

 

Roaster Update and Blog Format

The last week was a bit chaotic. As if single dad life while starting a business in a new place wasn't all enough to juggle, I lost my wallet, our hot water heater has stopped working twice, and our dishwasher went out so I had to uninstall it and install a new one, which I've never done. My wife will be fully moved here from Denver at the end of July and I'm definitely taking a small vacation then.

But, enough whining. I also got a night off Friday, thanks to my sister in law, and was able to spend some good time at the Trappe Door and just enjoy downtown Greenville. Now, I'm currently sitting at one of those yellow tables with a cool breeze blowing while drinking some of our new Guatemalan coffee, which we'll be releasing next week, and everything gets put into perspective. I love what I'm doing! 

We have updated our pricing in general and are having a sale this week to celebrate the 4th of July. Pop over to our store and use the code word Freedom to receive 20% off. As I mentioned, we'll be adding some new beans by next week. Check em' out!

Roaster Update

We recently obtained a large wholesale client that requires we step up our roasting and production capacity. Thankfully, Jon found a great space to do that in Anderson. It will begin solely for our back end operations. However, we may open it to the public a few days a week with a small coffee bar setup and roasted bean sales. But that largely depends on how quickly we're able to get the main store front up and running, so no promises. We'll keep you posted on that!

Blog Format (UPDATED)

We are now around 4 months into this from the actual formation of the partnership between Jon and me. Our collaboration around what we intend Bridge City Coffee to be roughly began at the beginning of March. The first couple months were mostly spent figuring out how to viably make it work...and if we actually could. So the fact that we now have a roasting location secured, are working on nailing down our first storefront (more on that later this week), and have our first big investor on the hook is amazing! We are incredibly grateful.

We want to keep the posts as close to real time as possible. I say "as close" because it is difficult at times to find an hour to hammer out a decent post in the midst of everything going on. If I had a personal scribe things would be a little different and you would receive actual real time updates. But alas, I don't have a scribe, yet. I will try my best to write at least one post weekly for the next couple months while so much is going on. It will continue to be some combination of general updates and information focused on our unique business model - sourcing, employment, community involvement, coffee quality, etc.

We would love your help! Please subscribe and tell other people what we're doing and to follow our story here.

 

June 9 - Update on Selling Roasted Coffee, Raising Capital/Investment, Mobile Cart

Greenville Hasn't Stopped Impressing Me

My love for the city of Greenville has grown almost daily since I got here. Sure I typically go through 2 changes of clothes (none of which are Clemson related, pastel colored, short khaki shorts, or boat shoes) because it feels like a sauna most of the time here and I’m used to 15% humidity in Colorado. But it’s great to be writing this downtown sitting outside at one of those yellow tables in the atrium where Methodical Coffee and Mast General are. I also have a deep love for Belgian beer and food and went to the Trappe Door for the first time last week with Katie. It’s my favorite restaurant I’ve been to so far.

Where We Are In Building Bridge City

As I wrote a couple posts ago, our focus has been on starting wholesale and individual sales, continuing the momentum of the mobile cart, and obtaining investors/capital to open the storefront. Below are updates on each of those. We would love to connect with anyone reading this and are working on updating the usability of the blog. Until we do that, however, feel free to email me at greg@bridgecity.coffee

√  1. Launch Wholesale and Individual Accounts   We obtained our first sizeable wholesale account and are working on a couple others. Anyone who wants to buy beans for themselves can do so through the main site, or click here. We’re excited to have our first shipment of beans from Yepocapa Coffee and will be adding them to the website soon. Check out their site here to see how they operate. We’re pumped to be collaborating with them so we maintain consistency in our model literally from farm to cup – not just in the typical way that phrase is abused.  We’ll post more on that later.

☐  2. Raising Capital and Exploring Investment Opportunities We are in discussions with two new potential investors. One would help us with capital for acquiring roasting equipment and the other may bring enough to the table to open the storefront! It’s surreal to even write that! However, what we’re striving to do with this blog is write it in real time. So it’s not as though Jon and I know both investors will come through and are trying to build suspense by delaying communicating that. We truly have no clue if either will solidify. That’s why there is no check next to number 2 yet; it’s all about the check marks.

√  3. Continue to Utilize the Mobile Cart   Jon has done well with finding cool events to sell our coffee at. He has been on an anniversary trip with is wife but will have more info on the upcoming events when he gets back.  If you know of somewhere you think it would be great for our coffee to be sold, please let us know!

 

June 1 - Brief Update

Personal Update

Where to begin? I’ll start by explaining the gap in entries despite much happening with Bridge City. The past month has been insane. Not in a bad way, just in a completely chaotic and overwhelming way. I learned at an early age that though we can often blur the line between bad things that happen out of our control and generally difficult situations, there is a stark difference between the two. The past month has been comprised of much of the latter for me. That was mainly due to selling our Denver house, buying one in Greenville (with a lot of unnecessary uncertainty and difficulty), and moving our lives and family across the country.  Though stressful, all the effort and energy has been put into something positive and worthwhile and, thankfully, has yielded good results

Bridge City Update

Jon has been a champ with keeping our momentum going while I was consumed with wrapping up client engagements in Denver, packing, and moving.  We secured our first order of raw beans with Yepocapa Coffee, Jon and Kenzi launched our online sales, the groundwork was laid with a huge potential investor, we made good progress in finding a store front location, and also secured a larger temporary place to roast until we are able to find a permanent one. Kudos to Jon for handling much of that on his own!

I’ll be doing more detailed updates over the next couple weeks on where we are with Bridge City. But I wanted to at least get something posted to let everybody know we’re still around and moving forward!

April 20 - Roasted Coffee Sales, Raising Capital/Investment, Mobile Cart

Soft Launch of the Pop-Up Cart

Jon successfully ran our first pop-up cart in collaboration with Textile Hall. There was more excitement and buzz than we anticipated. He had great conversations about the business and employment model we're working to build as well as chatting about coffee in general. Multiple people commented that our model sounded similar to Purple Door, which was awesome! I'm working with Mark, Purple Door's executive director, to figure out how I can continue serving on the board after moving to Greenville as well as how PD and BC can partner together in the future. It was encouraging to Jon and me that people know about Purple Door across the country in Greenville in general, but that they also connected our model to it. All in all, our first event was a success.

Where We Are In Building Bridge City

As mentioned above, we had our soft launch for the coffee cart last week. In the immediate future we will be focusing on 3 things...

1. Wholesale and individual accounts for roasted coffee  Info for wholesale and any of our beans for individuals will be on the website soon. We are very excited and proud of the sourcing model we're building. Typically, in the coffee world, beans can pass through as many as 8 different parties before reaching your cup (farmer, co-op, washing/processing, exporter, importer, distributor, roaster, shop). While this is definitely necessary in a variety of contexts, it isn't always. We're in the process of finalizing some key relationships. However, by late 2017 all of the coffees, yes all, you will have the chance to experience through Bridge City will be sourced and handled in ways that we trust by people that we know, trust, and support. Our goal is to always provide full transparency with our coffees and our sourcing model is designed to minimize the number of hands that touch every bean we use. This will maximize the profit our farmers and their communities receive, allow us to maintain more direct and authentic relationships with them, and in the end create a better product with real community through it all. We'll talk more in depth about how we do this in future post. Or you can reach out and ask us for more details, we'd love to tell you about it!

2. Raising capital and exploring investment opportunities To get our physical shop location and the employment model up and running we need a substantial amount of capital, substantial to us anyway. The good thing is that as our wholesale and general accounts increase, the amount of investment we need decreases. While this is a positive thing we would rather have the shop up and running as soon as feasibly possible. Thankfully, we recently obtained our first investors! This was a big deal for us both tangibly and intrinsically that people believe enough in what we're doing to invest. Thank you, you know who you are! Having said that, we still have quite a bit to procure to get the shop up and running and this will be a focus for both Jon and me in the foreseeable future.

*Update We are currently talking with a huge potential client that would speed things up for purchasing a bigger roaster and warehouse space.

3. Continuing to utilize the mobile cart  We plan to continue this at different events throughout the Greenville and Anderson areas (Jon lives in Anderson). We'll post a schedule on the website as we solidify more events and you can also stay up to date via Instagram @bridgecitycoffee