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A Day in the Life of a Small Coffee Company

July 10, 2010

How often have you asked yourself "Why am I doing this for a living?". Probably many, many times. I guess we all do. I usually ask the question when I am tired and beat down from a hot, hectic, stressful day at the roastery.

Yesterday was different. I got up around 3:30 am. (I know, "man you are nuts!"). Well most times when I get up that early, it is definately not planned. As a small business owner like some of you are, I often wake up that early (if not earlier) to find myself in a 'fetal position', sweating and sucking my thumb thinking "how in the heck am I going to do all that I have to do today and actually make money doing it?"


I headed to the roastery (which luckily is only 5 miles from my house). I loaded up the 'ol box van with fresh coffee, some of which Greg had roasted around ten hours earlier. At 4:00 a.m. I was on my way to downtown Houston (which is a two hour drive) to try to 'hit' at leat five HEB grocery markets, a large YMCA and a couple of offices and stock them full of Independence Coffee for the coming weekend.


As the morning got hotter and the August sun seemed to pick on me more and more as I would pull up to a store, run in, check stock, run out, 'load out' my carts with coffee and tea and watch my time (most stores receive product only until noon), I was getting a bit cranky.


I was leaving the next to the last store around 10:45 and feeling pretty good about my 'time management' skills for the day when I approached the exit gate and one of my competitor's delivery vans were coming in. I was thinking "I bet they have a 'cold blowing' a/c in that thing".


I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed that both of these guys (of course they have two delivery guys instead of one like me), were kind of grinning as they watched me pull away.


I'm not sure if they were making fun of my 'over-sized' rolling billboard truck (see photo), or just the fact that I was trying to do all of this alone. Hot, sweaty and frustrated I rushed to my last store. This was my "why am I doing this for a living?" moment.


"Ahh my last store for the day!"
As I was stocking one of our whole bean coffee bins with a five pound bag of fresh coffee, a guy in a "I Need My Independence!" tee shirt came running up to me and said "I just love the smell of Independence 'Jet Fuel' in the morning!". He said that he drives 30 miles to get his Independence 'fix' and that no other coffee can come close. We exchanged biz cards (he is a radio DJ in Houston named Jack) and he went on his way with three bags packed full of whole bean coffee that was still warm from our Ambex roaster.


I can credit Jack with answering my most burning quesiton, "Why am I doing this for a living?".

My trip back to Brenham was a ton better than the early morning trip into Houston, made better by a stop at Spec's for a 6-pack of St. Arnolds 'Lawnmower' beer (let's give these guys the credit that they deserve...they make excellent beer and they make it in Houston!). I'm sure that St. Arnolds owner, Brock, has asked himself "why...." several times over the years, which he and his crew have dedicated to growing what is now the largest micro-brewry in Texas.

Jack, enjoy the weekend, relax and remember to "grind-true"!

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