Growing up in a small town on the south shore of Massachusetts, you think the world is all about the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox vs. Yankee rivalry. Turns out the world is all about coffee. I personally started drinking coffee when I was hired at my first office job in midtown Manhattan. I was young, ambitious, and I had the whole world figured out, right?! Wrong… I quickly learned that I was not a city boy, and the only way I could stay awake to get my work done was to drink a ton of coffee.
In New York City, it felt like there was someone serving coffee on every corner. Being new to the coffee game, I was more into the mindset, “if it is free, it is for me.” I started making coffee in the office breakroom to start my day, and then again multiple more times during the day as a reason to get up from my desk. I still remember the day when we got a new coffee machine at the office. The machine was big and noisy, and it made “lattes” and “cappuccinos.” I learned later in life that the machine, although it claimed to make these delicious coffee beverages, fell far short of making any such drink. It was basically coffee, not espresso, with warm milk that had zero froth. As my love for coffee started to grow, I found myself going to coffee shops on a regular basis during my work trips. At these coffee shops I kept it simple and basically got drip coffees all the time.
After a few years of living in NYC, I convinced my company to let me move to our Boston office. I was able to move back home to the south shore of Massachusetts, and I took the train into South Station on a regular basis. It was right outside South Station where I started to learn about espresso, lattes, and cappuccinos. There was a coffee trike that would park right outside the train station. When I had some extra cash, I would stop and grab a latte or cappuccino. At the time I really did not understand the difference. All I knew was that they were delicious, and it gave me an extra bolt of energy compared to a drip coffee. It was not until I decided that I wanted to get out of the corporate world and help build strong communities that I really started to understand the chemistry of coffee.
In 2015, I decided to make a huge change in my life. I quit my corporate job to help start a non-profit, a honey bee company, and take over a coffee shop. At the time I thought I could take on any and everything. I began to learn more about starting a company, and one of the first things they tell you is “get good at one thing, and then you can expand to other things.” It was a little too late for that, so I just kept moving.
The non-profit (Terra Cura) was a roller coaster in the beginning. Everyone loved our ideas, mission, and vision, but we were a young company with minimal infrastructure. We started with two community garden pilot programs. One was a garden at a school, and the other was at a low-income housing property. We have grown to 13 school gardens, and we have helped start or support five other community gardens in our area.
The honey bees were a hobby that turned into a passion. I began keeping bees when I moved home from NYC. I started with 3 beehives, then I jumped to 10 beehives, and now I keep 27 beehives. Working with honeybees has taught me more about life than I ever thought possible. Honeybees are some of the most amazing creatures in our world, and I am grateful to be able to call myself a beekeeper. It is truly an honor and my goal is to eventually keep 100 beehives.
The coffee house was a blessing that fell into my lap. The coffee house we took over has been around since I was in high school. My oldest sister and all her best friends were always going to the coffee house to hang out. When the opportunity presented itself, we all knew that it was the right choice to make. At this point in my life I was making coffee with a French press and there was nothing strategic about it. Once we got the keys to the coffee house, my knowledge of coffee was flipped upside down. I started to learn all about the grams of beans to water ratios. We started tasting espresso daily, and now we taste it every few hours, or when the weather changes, to make sure it is just right. Pour overs became a show we could put on for the customers while we educated them about all the coffee knowledge we had picked up over time. By far, the best thing about the coffee house is the community it has created in our small part of the world. The staff takes pride in being part of the team and we see many of the same faces coming by every day. Our space has become a spot where people can meet up for a first date, connect with an old friend, pray with new friends, and even meet their fiancé.
Just Pour was born from our many conversations at the coffeehouse with our customers. One of the questions we kept hearing was, “how do I make a single cup of coffee without having to buy a new brewing machine or use a plastic pod?” This made us start to think about different ways we love to brew coffee. The answer we started to give people was the pour over method, but there was a small problem. The feedback we heard from people was that they didn’t have a scale to weigh the coffee or a grinder to make it fine enough. Other feedback was that there were too many steps and it took a long time to complete.
At this point our wheels were turning, and we started to develop all sorts of ideas on how we could speed up the process to make a pour over more convenient. We would literally have arts and craft days at the coffee house where we would come up with all sorts of concepts. Eventually the neighboring computer store stated to help, and before we knew it, we were 3D printing prototypes in their maker space. We then gave our idea to all sorts of people and the feedback was phenomenal. This brings us to present day as we get ready to fully launch our idea. The vulnerability is real when you are putting out an idea to the world that you have been working on for a long time. The emotions are a mix of everything from excitement to scared, but at the end of the day we know what we are doing will help provide a quality and convenient way for people to brew coffee.