Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Luke Schneider, Founder of Fire Department Coffee, located in Rockford, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Our business is Fire Department Coffee. Our mission is simple: to make great coffee and support fellow firefighters and first responders. Our customers are people from all walks of life, but we share a common interest in drinking high-quality coffee and supporting our military, veterans, and first responders. Their support allows us to give back through the Fire Department Coffee Charitable Foundation, which focuses on supporting firefighters and first responders who have become sick or injured while on the job.

Tell us about yourself

I was a shipboard firefighter in the US Navy. I became a civilian firefighter and paramedic for the City of Rockford, Illinois. The military and fire service is where I learned about the need for caffeine to stay awake and alert while working long shifts. During my time as a firefighter, I met my wife, a barista, and she showed me the craft of coffee. I fell in love with making coffee and eventually roasting it. This is where the idea of Fire Department Coffee bloomed and would soon become one of the fastest-growing brands in the United States. I'm motivated by the impact we are making in the lives of our team, communities, and first responders. Getting support from our customers makes it all possible. Growing a business can be challenging, but seeing the support from our customers and team makes it all worth the journey.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think it's really important to stay humble. I've learned that I don't have all the answers, and my biggest accomplishment is realizing that I'm only as good as my team. We win together, or we lose together.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the most challenging things is not knowing what the future has in store. When things are challenging, it is easy to quit. Business comes with risks. Even though the future is bright for Fire Department Coffee, we have faced many challenges, but in the end, those experiences have only strengthened us.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Work hard, share the vision and goals with your team, and don't let fear hold you back.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

If you are a customer or considering trying our coffee, or if you follow us on social media, thank you for being a part of the journey! We are very passionate about coffee and first responders and have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You won't be disappointed.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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