2019: A Year in Review
The Roasting Facility
On December 30, 2018, I sat in a quiet Mercer Innovation Center, thinking. The Mercer Village store was closed - no one else was working - it was just me inside the cubicle that had become my sanctuary. As I looked around the cubicle, the once large space had become so small. The room was full - the additional cubicle we were given was full - the storage room in the back was full - we had outgrown it.
From the popcorn popper to the chicken rotisserie roaster; from the phone calls in the conference rooms with Arturo to the serious talks with investors; from the early mornings with King Benjamin to the partnership talks with CV; from the nights spent on the conference room couch to the nights slept on center stage; the Innovation Center had become home. It had become a place that allowed me to fail without losing - a place that accepted me for who I am. But, it was time for us to move on - it was time for another entrepreneur to have the opportunity - it was time for Z Beans to control its own roasting facility.
On January 4, 2019, Carter and I set out on an expedition across the country to pick up two coffee roasters from Los Angeles, California. Two guys and a Penske rental truck primed for 3 days of non stop driving, birthed the two most vital pieces of our operation: Rose and Roosevelt.
On February 3, 2019, I walked out of the sliding door of my cubicle in the MIC for the last time, as we moved the wholesale and roasting operations into The Basement: The Z Beans Roastery.
The Second Shop
On December 3, 2018, I got a call from Trace Butler, a Macon native, entrepreneur, and businessman. He had received word about Z Beans and our expansion hopes from Patty Cake, the grandmother of Miss Kay Elizabeth, my girlfriend. After months of talks, planning, hard work, and a little stress, the second shop came to fruition.
On March 29, 2019, the second Z Beans coffee shop opened its doors for the first time!
22,700lbs of Coffee
On July 6, 2019, Carter and I left for Ecuador. This was the first time Carter had the opportunity to visit Ecuador and meet Arturo, Marie, Fabricio, and all of our farmers! Our goal for the trip was to import 20,000lbs of coffee. But, with a little luck on our side, we were able to import even more.
On August 17, 2019, 22,700lbs of Ecuadorian coffee arrived at our roasting facility!
The Third Z Beans Shop
On May 6, 2019, representatives from the Coliseum Hospital met with us to discuss the possibility of opening a kiosk inside the main entrance of their hospital. After 6 months of planning, negotiations, and a little luck, we were able to accomplish our goal.
On October 16, 2019, the third Z Beans Coffee shop opened for business for the first time.
The Fourth Z Beans Coffee Shop
On October 24, 2019, I contacted Alan George, the COO of St. Francis Hospital, for the first time. With organizations with like minded missions, we quickly came to an agreement. The fourth Z Beans Coffee shop is slated to open in January of 2020!
Additional International Notes and 2020 Goals
1. Our average price that we paid farmers this year for their green coffee beans was $2.31. $1.30 more than the C Market at time of purchase and $.90 more than the Fair Trade minimum price. With our farmers receiving more than double the average amount for their coffees, they have not only been able to invest back into their plantations to grow more coffee for next year, but they are able to invest back into what matters most - their families. Our prices ranged from $2.05 per pound to $2.70 per pound.
2. Our 22,700 pounds of coffee was up by 62% from last year's amount. We purchased coffees from 5 new farmers this year, and we were able to purchase over coffees all throughout Ecuador: Northern, Milton Rivadeneira; South West, Diego Jaya and Manuel Sanchez; Southern, Alfredo Ochoa; South East, Roberto Rengel and Ramiro Pauta.
3. For the fourth consecutive year, we were able to eliminate any middle man and source our green coffee beans directly from our farmers. Furthermore, we even laid the ground work for the farmers to utilize shipping services in their local areas that allowed them to bring their coffees directly to our processing facility in Pinas. Farmers that were able to utilize a local shipping company, were paid more for their coffees to cover the cost of shipping. Our goal for the following year, is for all farmers to have the ability to ship their coffees to the processing facility. This will allow them to bring their coffees to other markets all throughout Ecuador.
4. For the fourth consecutive year, we did not utilize exclusivity contracts with our farmers. Our farmers are encouraged to sell to other buyers, as our goal is to enable sustainability for the farmers and their families. As of 12/29/19, 83% of our farmers have stated that they plan to sell all of their crops by next year's harvest season.
5. Z Beans was able to invest more than $75,000 over this past year into the Ecuadorian economy. The $75,000 includes the cost of coffee, shipping within Ecuador, wages, lodging, packaging, and additional trip expenses.
6. We plan to begin importing Ecuadorian Chocolate by August of 2020. The chocolate will be available at all of our coffee shops as well as our website. The chocolate will be processed in Ecuador and shipped directly to The States. The goal for the chocolate project is to create sustainable day-to-day jobs in the city of Zaruma. Like all of our coffees, we will tell the stories of each of our chocolate farmers.
7. Our goal is to purchase more than 33,000lbs of coffee from Ecuadorian farmers this upcoming year and to find new farmers in central Ecuador.
8. We plan to lead our first Mercer On Mission trip to Ecuador this upcoming summer. Students will have the opportunity to learn about importing products, meet farmers, and build a business plan centered around chocolate. The goal for the trip is to empower students and show them that they can do this as well - they can build a shared value supply chain, creating a better tomorrow for others through entrepreneurship.
Additional Domestic Notes and 2020 Goals
1. As of 12/29/19, there are over 37 men and women working for Z Beans.
3. You can now find Z Beans in over 70 businesses throughout Macon, Georgia, and the surrounding areas! Whether through our office coffee service or our private label roasting services, we have been able to grow the wholesale sector this year. We are grateful for the support of all of our business partners!
4. The coffee shops have added over 3,000 people to the loyalty program this year. We could have never imagined the support the Macon community would afford us. From all of us at Z Beans, thank you!
5. In 2020, our goal for the coffee shops is to improve every facet of your experience. From the selection on our menus; to the quality of our beverages, pastries and sandwiches; to the ambiance, we want Z Beans to be YOUR coffee shop. We will be revamping our menu, hosting additional events, including a unique mug subscription offer, amongst others. Be on the lookout for these changes early next year!
6. In 2020, our goal for the wholesale sector is to expand our reach. We hope to supply more restaurants throughout the Middle Georgia community. Our ability to private label different blends of coffee has created opportunities for us that we could have never imagined. Furthermore, we hope to open markets for Z Beans in different cities in Georgia, like Savannah and Atlanta.
To our customers: Thank you for your support, guidance, feedback, and trust this year. Without you, Z Beans would not be where it is today.
To the teammates that are with Z Beans today and to those who have moved on over the past year: Thank you for your hard work, trust, and commitment. Without you, Z Beans would not be where it is today.
To our farmers: Thank you for welcoming us - for allowing Z Beans to be a part of your family. Your commitment, attention to detail, and hard work is forever admirable. Without you, Z Beans would not be where it is today.
To Marie and Fabricio: Thank you for believing in us - for hosting us in your beautiful city of Pinas this summer. The love both of you have for coffee and entrepreneurship is contagious. Without the both of you, Z Beans would not be where it is today.
To Arturo: Thank you for all that you do - for taking care of us while in Ecuador this summer. Your passion for Z Beans, optimism, perseverance and trust bring consistent stability. Without you, Presidente, Z Beans would not be where it is today.
To new opportunities,