Well, we made it another year by a whisker. I want to thank everyone for all your help and support. We are wiser, smarter and more experienced running this business. Our products and retail customer base grew a great deal. This year we saw coffee quality increase from just about every country while supply was hindered by COVID and Leaf Rust. We will continue to see the coffee industry hindered significantly by COVID in 2021. Expect to see different offerings on our menu, delayed arrivals from certain areas of the world and less availability of each coffee.
Being a small business today has become so much more difficult from when we began. While running a small business brings so many great opportunities, it also has a great number of challenges. There was so much hate and division flowing freely this year however, I was still able to find some positive points. One thing I have now fully understood is the huge amount of respect that should be given to all small artisan businesses surviving in retail (I learned this the hard way).
The holiday season brought in some real humbugs wielding pure disrespect and ungratefulness for what we do. I am always shocked by the lack of manners people have in general. We source very small farm, Organic, Fair Trade and Certified by the Rain Forest Alliance coffees. This is very hard to do especially in 2020. If this doesn’t matter to you, maybe we are not the right fit. Telling me that our products are way overpriced is an insult and means that you don’t value the amount of work that goes into creating our Specialty Coffee. We must open, honest and real but not rude, disrespectful or hurtful to each other. If we don’t let people know that they are being mean, rude, & disrespectful we can’t expect them to change. Use your words and try to work together for a favorable outcome. We all slip up and no one is perfect but we have to give a good effort. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we are all going through difficult stuff – some more than others.
Even through all the mess, we had some amazing customer experiences. I now have 2 customers that bake artisan-level bread and share with us. We had a few people bring us cookie trays and other amazing snacks. One other experience that really made me smile was from a customer that got us a really nice card and a gift card for $50! All of this reminds me that we’re on the right track with what we’re doing. Watching the community come together and thank us is beyond amazing and really heartwarming!
Business and Menu Changes
With everything that happened this year we had to reinvent our business and focus on our customer experience a bit more. This leads to a bigger investment in those hard to source coffees and nano-lot offerings which cost more money. While I was able to shoulder most of that cost, a small percentage has to be given to our customers. These included the amazing honey processed lots, Panama Gesha from La Esmeralda and also the 100% Kona Extra Fancy we will always have in stock going forward.
We will be narrowing down our menu a bit more too. Stocking and roasting 25+ coffees year-round is just insane and not practical long term. Please be open to trying new coffee offerings (this is one of the main reasons we carry three different sizes). I will be working on offering another Light Roast coffee as we now have a huge following of our light and light/medium roast coffees. If you have origin suggestions for lighter roasted coffees, I am always interested in hearing them.
I will continue sending out coffee related educational emails. We’ll see even a greater focus on how the climate changes are impacting coffee. For example – we saw a huge impact in Nicaragua and Honduras with the massive hurricanes (Iota and Eta) that hit the countries in November. The hurricanes impacted 60% of coffee growing regions in each country, amounting to a complete loss of approximately 25,000 acres. This means that if the families previously living in the 44,000 homes destroyed decide to rebuild, they would need to completely replant the coffee farms. This is at least a 5-year investment prior to harvesting any coffee from the farm. Factor in the impacts of COVID on the families and farms and you’ll see how difficult these coming years will be.
If you’re looking to know more about specific coffee industry related topics please let me know. Knowledge of this industry is magical and I love involving my customers.
It is that time of year again when we get in a few new lots from Ethiopia. We have just released our new woman owned Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Bedhatu Jibicho, which is very reminiscent of one we had a few years back from Banko Gotiti. We are almost always stunned by what we can locate and how it tastes in the cup.
The name of the coffee you are drinking is very important. Why is so important…it’s just coffee right? Wrong! You are participating in the livelihood of dozens of families that have produced the coffee in your mug. Your simple morning (or afternoon & evening) drink impacts everyone from the farmer, processor, bagger, shipper, trucker, and finally the roaster and retail staff.
We live in an amazing world full of high-quality specialty coffee. Hopefully, we can continue to provide you with some of the best coffee products out there. Working in the coffee industry takes tons of work. But we’re not just in the coffee industry, we’re also retail artisans working with and educating the public too.