In 2016, Shane Buerster travelled to Zaruma, Ecuador with a group of other Mercer Business students in a program called Mercer On Mission. On this trip, the group's goal was to research whether or not coffee could be an economic alternative to gold mining in the El Oro region of Ecuador.
While conducting interviews, the group worked with Arturo Peñarreta, a Zarumian government employee, who served as their tour guide during the interview process. After Shane returned to the United States, he kept in touch with Arturo through daily phone calls. Arturo suggested that Shane start a coffee business and begin importing Ecuadorian coffee, and thus, Z Beans Coffee was born. "Z" for Zaruma.
Arturo shipped out the first 65lbs. of coffee from Zaruma, Ecuador in January of 2017. The coffee embarked from Correos Del Ecuador in Machala to make its way to Macon, Georgia.
The first official coffee purchase was made in July of 2017 in which 4,000lbs. were purchased from Carlos Ochoa (pictured) in Guizhaguiña, Ecuador. The coffee arrived in Macon the following month, in August.
Did you know? Carlos was the first farmer Shane met during Mercer On Mission in 2016.
Fun Fact: A large portion of this coffee was roasted in a popcorn popper in the Mercer Innovation Center.
Fabricio and Marie Paredes own the historic Coffee Processing Facility in Piñas, Ecuador. Built by Marie's father and uncles in the early 20th century, this facility is where all Z Beans Coffee has been processed and sorted before shipping out.
November 2017: Committed to helping the farmers of El Oro, Ecuador improve their plantations, we donated organic fertilizers to help combat the common causes of poor yearly harvests.
June 2018: With the help of Mercer On Mission leader, Dr. Craig McMahon, we built and donated 25 drying beds to farmers in El Oro to dry their coffees properly.
September 2018: Through donations from customers, we were able to purchase machetes for El Oro farmers.
In August of 2018, the first import by boat was finally made possible through the establishment of a lasting supply chain from Ecuador to Macon. The container arrived in the port of Savannah with 14,000lbs. of coffee!
The first official Z Beans Coffee bag, designed by Jessica Shurman, also makes its debut!
Did you know? The Hand & Cup logo was originally designed by Arturo himself, burned into bamboo and hanging on his wall for years before Shane visited Zaruma.
In August of 2018, the first Z Beans Coffee Shop opened in Mercer Village on Montpelier Avenue in Macon, Georgia!
This happened just months after Shane and Carter (pictured) graduated from Mercer University. Carter made a full-time commitment to Z Beans and became the Chief Operations Officer, a teammate Z Beans will forever be grateful for!
In December of 2018, Z Beans signed the lease for the Roasting Facility in Downtown Macon, located at 450D Third Street. No more popcorn popper or rotisserie chicken roaster!
Did you know? Carter and Shane drove over 35 hours cross-country to California to purchase the first Z Beans Coffee Roasters, affectionately named Roosevelt and Rose!
In July of 2019, the biggest ever Z Beans Coffee shipment saw 22,700lbs. of Ecuadorian coffee make its way to the States from Piñas, Ecuador. With an average cost of $2.31 per pound, we were able to pay farmers above fair trade, certified organic. But most importantly, we paid them directly—no middle man!
In January of 2020, Z Beans made its first cacao purchase in Ecuador. The following month, the Z Beans Chocolate Factory opened in Zaruma, Ecuador to process and refine all of our chocolate, used in every Z Beans Mocha made in the States!
In October of 2021, Z Beans was able to bring in its biggest shipment yet, 40,200lbs. of Ecuadorian coffee! This shipment included coffee from nearly ten farmers.
Fun Fact: At this time, Z Beans was roasting around 800lbs. of coffee a week. We have grown a lot since!
In November of 2021, Z Beans reached a huge milestone. On November 1, Z Beans Coffee at Jacksonville State University opened for business, marking the establishment of Z Beans' fifth coffee shop!
In January of 2022, Z Beans was able to bring in just over 40,000lbs. of Ecuadorian coffee. Not even a year later in November, we brought in an additional 47,000lbs. of coffee. These shipments featured three processes (washed, natural, and honey) as well as more than 10 farmers.
In October of 2022, Z Beans partnered with Sally and Gus Lempsink and their son, Andrew Wilson, to open the first franchised Z Beans location in Warner Robins, Georgia.
Did you know? Sally is originally from Ecuador!
On December 2, 2022, Z Beans reached another huge milestone when we opened the tenth Z Beans Coffee Shop in Atlanta, Georgia in Mercer Village on Flowers Road.
Fun Fact: Z Beans Coffee - Atlanta was the fifth Z Beans Coffee Shop location, including the Mercer Medicine kiosk in Columbus, Georgia, to open in 2022!