Now, four years later, we have come a long ways. From 65lbs of coffee to 27,000lbs of coffee - to coffee shops and a roasting facility - to an incredible team in Ecuador and in The States, we have scaled. But, as we continue to grow, Arturo remains in the center of it all.
Opening the second coffee shop was, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever tried to do. Countless individuals came into the shop a few days before opening, confused. "You all are opening on Friday?" Some would even go so far to say, "There's no way."
But, in case you don't already know, if there is a will, there is always a way.
It hurt losing The Next Big Idea. I thought about it for many days and nights. Could I have done something differently? Now, thinking back on it, if I'd have won the competition, Z Beans would not be where it is today. Momentary satisfaction may have prevented me from taking a leap of faith - from giving me the fire to prove Z Beans is more than 'just coffee.'
When I started Z Beans, I never thought I'd find someone willing to sacrifice as much as I do. Would anyone else be willing to forego a higher paying job? Would anyone else be willing to get 5 hours of sleep a night? Would anyone else be willing to take a 15 hour bus ride? Would anyone else be willing to live in the office? Would anyone be willing to take it, so Z Beans can make it?
Arturo and I thank the mechanic for his hospitality and head back home. On the walk, Arturo brainstorms one more option. He says that we can get the 500 pounds of coffee peeled at a processing facility in a town called Pinas since it's the closest one, but we will need to eventually get our own machine so we can do it ourselves. Not knowing what to expect, I agree...
While we have successfully diversified our supply chain by purchasing coffee from a different region of Ecuador, we still have a long ways to go with Z Beans. I'm constantly worrying about another business moving in and undercutting my supply chain. However, on the other hand, something tells me Z Beans will be just fine. Something tells me that the countless hours I have spent with the farmers, building tables, meeting their families, and donating organic fertilizers, will prevail in the end. It's one thing to simply purchase coffee from them, but it's something completely different to invest in them.