Hello San Diego! As my mobile coffee shops building and launch phase nears completion and the impending first day of service looms in the air, I thought it would be cool to catch you up on our coffee shops journey thus far.
First off, I am thrilled to tell you that our trailer is completely built out (on the inside) and was getting completed on the outside as I was writing this. Big shout out to Direct Effect Wraps in SD for helping make our coffee trailer design a reality.
So, what exactly has it taken to get to our final few weeks before opening day? Well, I would be lying to you if I told you the process has been easy. It is really hard to start a business but luckily there is an overabundance of moments filled with happiness as following your dream is truly rewarding. So to sum it up, coffee is awesome and is a symbol for life because I love specialty coffee, San Diego. If you want more specifics, please read on for a timeline of the last 10 months:
“Adios corporate America” was the quote of the month. After some serious self-contemplation, I realized that coffee is truly my passion and hanging out with people while drinking coffee is a dream that could become a reality. Thus, the only logical step short of becoming a permanent resident at one of San Diego’s many amazing coffee shops was to open my own Mobile Coffee Shop…Obviously!
The cold harsh reality of the situation hit me. I was missing three integral parts of the equation—1) I did not have a trailer to start my mobile shop in 2) Even if I had a trailer, I did not have a truck to tow it with and 3) Issues one and two could not be addressed without money of which I did not have (thanks SD rent). Clearly, it would have been logical to wait until I had money and a truck to get started but I said screw it, I will use the only savings I have, move to a smaller & cheaper apartment and purchase a damn trailer.
Craigslist and I become good friends. After hours of distractions and a near purchase of a crockpot on craigslist I focused in on a used 2011 trailer shell located in OC that had a three compartment sink but no practical plumbing system and oh yeah, no electrical system! So what did I do? I bought it. Goodbye savings hello long-term commitment to a new business.
Late November 2017
But wait, I still don’t’ have a truck! “Minor detail,” said no one ever. Its true, I did not have a truck to tow the trailer that I now owned in a storage lot in Orange County, CA (yes I Live in San Diego, CA). No problem. It was nearly two weeks after officially owning the trailer that I once again jumped on to Craigslist. With much surprise, I sold my Honda Fit for cash in just a few days. I turned around and bought a 2007 Nissan Frontier. Look at that; Items 1 through 3 was now resolved. So what have we learned thus far? Craigslist is an undervalued and marginalized platform that fundamentally represents all things great in America. Without Craigslist, American ingenuity cannot thrive.
December 2017-March 2018
Unfortunately, the abrupt set of purchases created a cash shortage for my spouse, my pet gecko and myself. Therefore, I stayed working in my corporate accounting job part-time through March trying to earn enough money to keep my dream alive and pay rent.
It was during this time that Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (A staple of San Diego Specialty Coffee culture and industry leader in next-gen coffee) agreed to be our coffee roaster and pretty much be my mentor for my business to get off the ground. I love Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, their cafes are very cool in SD as everyone at Bird Rock is amazingly knowledgeable about coffee, they roast the best coffee in the US, brew their coffee to perfection and could not be friendlier. I was stoked.
In addition to landing Bird Rock, I successfully applied for and received a loan by securing my spouse’s car (which does not sound like a good call) but she did give verbal consent in her quiet but still audible murmur of an “okay, do it, I guess.” With this new found source of cash, I hit the road running as much as possible and three monumental occasions happened: 1) I purchased a generator which was big enough to potentially power all of our future equipment, small enough to fit on the trailer tongue and quiet enough to not blow out my customers eardrums. 2) I got our electrical system installed and 3) my plans passed the rigorous County of San Diego Department of Health Plan Check process.
Perhaps it was the pressure of the business that got to me or the new-found debt or the physical toll from building a trailer but in either case, I found myself in the hospital in my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico on Friday, April 13th for a hernia repair surgery. The remainder of April was filled with Netflix binging and working hard to coexist with my parents in New Mexico for the first time since High School. Luckily, my parents are amazing and helped me get back to health by May 1.
Sure I can’t walk right or lift anything heavier than a pint of beer (thankfully I could at least lift a beer to my mouth) but it was at this point that our next big milestone was reached. With the help of my mom, we drove the trailer up to L.A. and got the plumbing fixed up in a shop in Long Beach. Next, I received our much-anticipated coffee equipment and got it installed in the trailer. One piece of equipment to note is our Espresso Machine. This baby is sweet. Made by Slayer Espresso (an American Company) based in Seattle, Washington this machine is next generation. Forget 2nd wave and 3rd wave coffee, this baby is 4th wave. The espresso we can pull with this thing is nothing short of da bomb. It has fully manual controls which allow you to pull a perfect shot and control the entire brew.
You throw in a few backpacking trips and an annual summer vacation trip with the family and there is not much time left to make big gains in the business. Of note, I focused on our accounting, securing a round of much-needed funding and a lot of small details in the trailer that needed to be addressed—like making sure the interior would meet the Health Department Code—like I said minor things.
A big month for our business! We have landed a few locations for our trailer to operate from, met with City zoning officials and figured out where we can operate (an integral part of a mobile business). I am ecstatic to say that once we are open we will be operating outside of the REI San Diego every Friday from 10am-2pm! See you there for some coffee and much needed outdoor gear!
Last, but not least, we have just finished getting our trailer wrapped and our final health inspection is 2.5 weeks out.
You are now caught up and I hope you are as stoked as I am about the future of Specialty Coffee in San Diego. The next few weeks will be challenging no doubt, but we must never forget the power of coffee. Mmmmmm, coffee.