I'm sitting at my office in the Mercer Innovation Center, and I receive an email from a potential customer I had met with months prior. He tells me that he would like for me to come to his office. He never mentioned whether he wanted to discuss coffee, but I assumed we would. So, first thing the next day, I make my way to his office, hoping to solidify another Z Beans customer. I walk into his office, and as soon as he started talking, I realized this wasn't about coffee...
It reminded me of the first time I met him. The first time I yelled at him because he wouldn't stop walking so fast. The first time he invited me over to his house, and I had to ask Dr. Kiefer if I could go. The time we exchanged WhatsApp numbers, so we could talk on his daughter's phone. The time I bought Arturo his own phone when we sneaked over the boarder and into Peru.
12 years later, I've not changed at all. I've simply discovered 'It.'. I never became the baseball player the young boy wanted to be, and I'll never be able to prove 'them' wrong. It's been hard, but I've come to terms with it, as God has helped me find my true calling.
On the flip side of the 'beginner's luck' coin, we have the instances where we work extremely hard, try something for the first time, and fail. We go back to the drawing board, figure out what we did wrong, and correct our errors. Our second attempt runs smoothly, and we are able to get the job done over and over again.
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...
From that day forward, I never thought twice about the decision. I knew it meant a lot to Arturo that his artwork would be the logo for the brand.. I remember when I had the Z Beans coffee bags printed in Ecuador, Arturo asked if he could keep some of them. He wanted to show them off to his friends around town..
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.
The workers and I would pick through over 450 pounds of coffee that day. Never in my life had I experienced such simplicity, such harmony. The workers would work three more days, picking beans and completing other various jobs. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to work with them again, as I had other tasks. But, they left their mark upon me and Z Beans.