Click here to smell the fresh coffee.
Wouldn't that be nice.
Before deciding to move here, I did a fair amount of research on coffee farming. I wanted to know important things like possible income, probable expenses and time requirements. I calculated how long it would take to pick all the coffee. I calculated how much coffee would get picked. I even calculated how much care per tree and how many trees per acre there would be. One thing I didn't calculate is how many trips to the post office I'd have to make.
That's one of the many reasons I'm glad we decided to sell our first batch of coffee to friends and family. It's been an excellent test experience. I wish I could give everyone a free bag of coffee but we've learned a lot by doing everything as officially as we could. For our first few orders, PayPal was configured wrong and charged incorrect shipping. A lot of people wanted mixed orders (some medium, some dark roast) but our website wasn't configured for that. One friend wanted to order green (unroasted) beans and another friend wanted to know shipping costs for a couple dozen bags. This is all stuff that we wouldn't have figured out if we hadn't been charging people and making them order through our regular channels.
Years ago, there was a commercial on TV where a bunch of people in an office were standing around a computer as their company website went online. They were all watching the hit counter. When the first order came in, they all cheered. A second later, another order came in, then another and another. Soon the counter was spinning by too fast to count. The cheering quickly changed to a look of amazement and panic. That is kind of how we felt with our first order of coffee. I half way expected nobody to buy the stuff but everyone has been quite eager and full of compliments. This first batch of coffee was sold faster than we expected.
After being picked, pulped and dried, it's best if coffee is aged for several months. Many of the large coffee producers don't bother because climate controlled storage space is expensive. We can't afford our own coffee roaster yet but we do have a large storage room for aging the coffee. In addition to our own coffee, we are also storing coffee for one of the local coffee shops. In exchange, they agreed to roast our coffee for us with their fancy roaster.
The problem is, their roaster can only roast eight pounds at a time. It takes twenty minutes or so per batch. With their own coffee plus our coffee, they could be standing at that roaster for hours. Now that our initial burst of coffee sales is done, they'll probably be able to keep up with the demand. To fill the gap, I had to find someone with a much larger roaster. This larger roaster does 38 pounds at a time. It's an intimidating machine with it's giant propane flame, spinning motors and noisy fans.
Eventually, I'll need my own roaster. We need more bags and labels of various sizes and types. I may also need a larger mailbox to hold all the packages. Who would have thought that boxing up and mailing off some coffee was so complicated? I'm quickly realizing that we actually have two businesses: coffee farming and coffee sales.
I'd rather be too busy than not busy enough. Keep those orders coming. I'm confident that we'll eventually figure out all these logistics and get everything nice and streamlined. We have a website redesign in the works. Our FedEx and credit card accounts will be ready soon. We plan to add a few more products in the coming months and hopefully we will be completely up and running in time for a busy Christmas season.
Many thanks and Mahalo! to all our new customers.
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