The First cafe
Hey. Thanks for reading this. I hope you'll find this useful and meaningful.
For over 7 years I've been asked where is the cafe? Why can't we visit and have a cup? Quite a few didn't even consider this operation actually something legit because I didn't have a cafe.
You can read mostly about my story on the about page. What's relevant to this is the thing is a bit different than the origin story, somewhat.
When I started this in my backyard in Collingswood back in 2013 this was mostly just a project to teach myself e-commerce and develop my digital skillset. However I kept on stumbling into more opportunities that led me onto this path and less in my other career. It was also started in the ashes of my marriage and without any partners or dad's lending me money or girlfriends buying a roaster for me. It was an uphill battle to get here without any of it being assured of succeeding. It was a dark time with little money and the fallout of a marriage ending. The office in Haddon Township I had for my digital work and meant to be my lab for roasting as well turned into my roasting space and a home away from a home often times from 7am-9pm almost every day of the week. It was not easy. I however consider myself lucky because so many people have supported this operation either through working for me, with me such as Whole Foods or Dulce, or just buying bags. You don't have to - there are now around 100 roasters in Philly Metro and an explosion of Third Wave roasters like me.
When it came time to be able to grow outside of my old space I was able to fit out a space in Cherry Hill. We doubled down on the relationship with Whole Foods because they had our backs from the start. We're now sold in 19 of their stores with 18 more on the horizon and often full lineups available in those stores. Compare that to the people on the shelves who all have multiple cafes or national investors and it's nothing short of a miracle I even sell enough to warrant such visibity. When covid happened I was as terrified as everyone else. What it did do for me was increase the amount of people trying. Also people started to just show up at the warehouse because they didn't want to go to stores. It turned my warehouse into an actual retail destination. This meant I could hire someone full time to assist me. I won't say covid has been good but a lot more people know about me than before. We also were able to launch Cold Brew cans via a long standing friendship with Backyard Beans in lansdale. Matt and I go way back and to have a "competitor" that is also a friend I'm very lucky to have. The cans has been a game changer and opening doors I didn't dream possible. One day I imagine wherever you travel and there's a whole foods you'll be able to get it.
Lastly the biggest support of all just ahead of Whole Foods is Fincas Mierisch. The family I met years back and one whose pictures are plastered all over the cafe. Often roasters pitch direct trade, fair trade, or organic and they're mostly buzz words to which I roll my eyes to that sell you bags with some cutesy often not true story behind of it changing the world for some impoverished people. The M's are not poor and we're not rescuing them. If anything they rescued me. I'm a loyal person to a fault sometimes. And for them to have a guaranteed buyer in the boutique coffee world someone of my size saying hi I'd like to build a company around your coffee, then do it, and then buy year in and year out is the equivalent of a unicorn. Most, as I mention, do things like send a barista on a trip there to take a few photos have their named printed on a bag and then buy 500lbs for one year just so you think they're special and that's it. We buy 10's of thousands.
For many years I've been the place/guy/thing if you knew about you liked it being the secret thing. Even the warehouse sort of kept that vibe. I think the new cafe is maintaining that special thing too. There's a lot in there to like.