Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in the coffee industry but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Madeleine Longoria Garcia, co-owner of Pacific Coffee Research, located in Kailua-Kona, HI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Pacific Coffee Research is a service-based coffee company. In addition to a robust wholesale program and unique retail line, we offer consulting services, professional education and training, casual workshops for coffee enthusiasts and novices, and professional services to our local coffee producers. We are Hawai'i's first Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Premier Training Campus and the only Hawai'i campus with SCA Authorized Trainers. Our mission is to illuminate the coffee supply chain as something intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. Our customers range from coffee producers to coffee enthusiasts and everyday coffee drinkers!
Tell us about yourself
Since 2010, coffee has played an integral role in my life - getting me through college, building a steady income, and inspiring me to move across nations and oceans to learn more about this plant. I first landed in Hawai'i in August 2014 and never knew I'd eventually call this place home. After moving away and back a few times - to Australia, South East Asia, and Central America - I finally realized, in 2017, that this was home, and it was time to build something meaningful here.
I wanted to give back to a community that had given me so much. Pacific Coffee Research was created to fill a gap in our local coffee community. There weren't any businesses providing professional education or services beyond selling roasted coffee and equipment and calling it "good" with wholesale accounts. Our hands-on approach offers so much more because we want to see the quality of our local industry elevate to exceed customers' expectations. Additionally, we saw that producers had little to no support in understanding the quality of their coffee and how small changes in their operation can have big results in the cup. We provide that service in an effort to meet and surpass quality expectations for our local coffee producers.
I am motivated by the dynamic nature of my work every day. There are constantly new challenges and learning opportunities, new tasks to tackle, and new people to build relationships with. I am inspired by those around me and those who are doing amazing things for this industry.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Pacific Coffee Research's greatest accomplishment is creating jobs and hiring employees. Providing our small (and often under-served) island community with creative and dynamic job opportunities brings us the most pride and joy to date. Currently, we have two full-time team members and one part-time. Our benefits package is thorough with medical, dental, and vision coverage, paid time off, sick days and holiday pay, and additional benefits such as free coffee and free/paid educational opportunities. In starting this business, a major goal was to provide jobs for our community. We are extremely grateful for the small team we've built. We foster relationships with them through transparency, clarity, and the opportunity for growth within the company.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Making the tough decisions and needing to make calls when things are uncertain (hello, pandemic) - you are the final decision-maker and, ultimately, are the most responsible for the effects of those decisions. So far, our actions and tough choices have been beneficial and right for our business. I'm grateful for that, and I try to be comfortable knowing that, one day, we'll make the wrong call and will have to manage those effects.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get a mentor asap. Mentorship is key - find someone who has years of experience in your field and build a relationship with them. Ask them if they have the capacity to be a mentor for you. It'll save you a lot of time, money, and stress in the long run.
- Create strong boundaries. It's easy to get caught up in work and feel obligated to work work work every day all day to build your business. But we can only perform at our best when we're taking care of ourselves first and making time for that care. Create boundaries surrounding work and play and care.
- Get a therapist. Everyday life is enough, but being an entrepreneur can be taxing. While we want to think our friends and family will be the greatest support system, they can't always be there for us in the ways we need. Therapists are there to help us out and fill the gaps that others in our support systems cannot.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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