Posts in Roasting
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.

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