I was binge listening to the Cat and Cloud Podcast today, trying to catch up on the most recent episodes. Using my iPhone lets me set the speed to 1 ½ times normal. This lets me listen to a lot more podcasts in a shorter amount of time. My brain likes to hear them talk faster anyway, but twice the normal speed makes it too hard for me to understand. Two things stood out for me from these shows: The work and sacrifice behind the scenes building a business takes and the fact the Specialty Coffee market is far from saturated.
The Work and Sacrifice Behind the Scenes. The Cat and Cloud boys were summarizing their year and they went through a lot. They roasted at multiple locations all over Central California, experienced homelessness and unemployment while trying to move to their final location and build something new. They spent time and energy building a Kickstarter campaign and endured all the pressure that comes from delivering on that crowd funding model. When they did get jobs, they were long distances away.
We caught wind of some of that in the show, but not the whole deal. I knew they were roasting at various locations while they got their own shop set up but didn’t know they were toting hundreds of pounds of green coffee hours in a station wagon to and from roasting to packaging. Talk about a commitment. It is no wonder their heart is into their shop so much. They’ve had to sacrifice lots to get to this point. It serves as a reminder that no matter what public face you see; whether it’s personal or professional, people are dealing with things behind the scenes you have no idea about. And some have given a lot to be able to serve you in the here and now.
The Specialty Coffee Market is Far from Saturated. During a Q&A session they read a listener’s comment about roasting and how hard it is to make a living from it. It’s so hard, in fact, that the only way to get ahead is to hoard secret roasting techniques and only pass them on to your children after swearing never to revel these secrets. Nationally, that’s not true. And since with the advent of this thing they call the internet and the use of the US postal system everyone in the world is your customer, that’s not true, ever.
I love to compare business to football. If a football coach found a way to solve a particular problem, be it on offense or defense, they shared it. This is how the game evolves and grows. Coaches have clinics and talk about what play they run to beat certain defenses and what the subtle nuances of that play are. That doesn’t mean it’s going to work for that coach. Especially when it’s part of a larger system. Take Triple-Option football from Navy or Georgia Tech for example. It’s a philosophy, not just a play. You can’t add the play without the philosophy and expect it to help you win games.
Roasting and coffee service requires a philosophy that you commit to. Once you know your style, then you can seek out the masters and tweak your approach. But if you don’t know what you want to accomplish, then no manner of trade secrets will help you be better at not knowing what you want to do. Share and get better. Always.