A New Direction

My whole life is changing.

10 min read

It’s been a quite a while since I made a post on here or given any updates about what’s going on with me and my life. Well, since then pretty much everything has changed. I have a new career, new business, new goals, new responsibilities, pretty much a totally different life than I did a year ago. While some things have stayed the same, I have some of the same struggles and some new ones too, I feel like I needed to sit down and write out what’s been going on, for myself and anyone who may be interested. I hope by writing this out I can help myself work through all that has been going on, and maybe, just maybe help anyone else going through something similar.

My career change

First, I wanna talk about my career shift, how and why I decided to go from a career in web development and design, to a career in coffee. I have a bachelors degreen in web development and had been trying to find a job in the space for a while. I was very unsuccessful in this and was getting more and more depressed with each rejection. Coffee had been my hobby for a couple years at this point and I had been toying with the idea of getting a barista job in a cafe for a while, but it was always a job to tide me over until I landed a career in web development. I was tired of rejection and the constant struggle to keep my skill set current, so in the spring of 2021 I started applying for barista positions just to take a break from career hunting for a while.

It was then I realized that the kind of cafes I wanted to work in wanted an experienced barista, not just bodies to fill a space. I was back to job hunting, just a different kind of job. I had hoped that my hobby would have been enough to get me a job, but that wasn’t appearing to be the case. Then, I saw that the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) offered certification classes and there was a facility in my area that taught them. I knew I had to be a part of them. So, I signed up and at the same time got my first barista position. I took all the classes available to me that I could afford. It was in these classes that I saw my passion grow stronger and the back of my mind started considering that this might be it, what I actually want to do with my life.

latte art
code

Now, you’re probably asking yourself “why would you leave something that could be so lucrative as web development for a career in coffee? I didn’t even know you could make a career in coffee!” and I kinda thought that too. Coffee being my hobby, I knew that careers in coffee existed, but I never thought I could make my career in coffee. I wouldn’t even know where to start. But after taking the SCA classes I realized that coffee was my passion in a way web development never was. And, unlike web development, I felt like I was good at it. I never felt special or like I knew enough in web dev, like why would anyone come to me for this. In coffee, I feel like a specialist. That is something I’ve never felt before and even with my incredible lack of self-confidence, I felt confident in something for the first time. There will always be someone who knows more than me and impostor syndrome still gets to me sometimes, but as a whole I believe in my abilities when it comes to coffee.

I knew that I wanted to be in coffee but I wasn’t sure where and at what capacity I wanted to be in it. While I loved working as a barista, I found myself longing for more. A new way to further entrench myself into coffee and it’s many facets. I wanted to move up in this new career and I felt like I didn’t have a lot of time to do it or figure it all out, as at this point I’m already 30 and have a wife and child that I need to help support. Now, due to unexpected circumstances, I ended up leaving my barista job. I’m back on the job hunt, but this time I want more. I want to be a coffee roaster. And this is where things got really difficult. It seemed to me that any small business roaster didn’t need help and all the other coffee businesses in my area either didn’t want to roast themselves or already had someone for it. I didn’t know what to do next. I knew I wanted to roast, but didn’t know how to get there.

As I was voicing these frustrations with my wife, we both kinda joked about starting our own business so I could have whatever job I want. Then, the talks got more and more serious until we were both like 👀. The facility I went to for the SCA classes sourced coffee and offered coffee roaster rental and because I had taken the classes with them I knew my way around. The pieces were starting to fall into place and we started realizing that this could possibly be a reality. So, with the next month and a half, I reached out and got together with them to pick out a coffee that would become our product, did some sample roasts, did a cupping to taste those sample roasts, and picked a coffee I was really happy with. We then filled out all the paperwork and formed Koi Coffee, LLC. While we waited for the paperwork to finalize I roasted a big batch to give to all my family and friends to get as much feedback as I could. The feedback I received was very positive and with it I knew I had a good product.

Me roasting the sample roasts
the three bags of sample roasts me cupping the sample roasts

My new buisness

So, that’s where I am. I have just started a new small business with my wife. We opened January 1st 2022, and we are trying to figure it all out as we go. As of right now we are selling our coffee online as well trying to get on the shelves of local shops and supply to local cafes. It’s not as financially safe as finding a job and working for someone else, and is extremely stressful for me, but it’s what I love doing, it’s something I own and feel proud of. I want to take this business and use it to share my passion for coffee with others. I want to show people that use coffee as a utility that it can be an enjoyable experience too. I want to make a product that I enjoy and want to share it with my friends, family, and anyone who wants to enjoy it too. But most importantly I want to be happy and proud of what I do.

I don’t expect to buy a yacht or a tropical summer home with this business, but I hope to one day be successful enough to provide for my family not just financially but also provide them with great experiences and happy memories. I hope to love what I do so I bring my best to them and not just what’s left after I fulfill societal obligations. If I’m able to do that I want to use whatever is left over to give back to my community and to charities that support causes that are important to me. We’ve only been open a month as of the time of writing, so we aren’t there yet and it will probably be a long time before we are but those are my goals and what I hope to accomplish. So far I think it’s going well, but there are plenty of hurdles we’ll have to cross. Time will tell.

our brand's coffee bags

The struggles

On top of my career change my wife has also changed so much. She is the other half of this new business and she started a new job outside of the business as well. Now that we are both working from home we have pulled our child out of child care and have kept them home with us so their life has changed too. Changing so much of our lives all at once has been incredibly challenging, but we’ll work through it together. Although it will be challenging for her to learn the new position with everything else going on, my wife’s new day job is really a great thing for our family and allows her to work from home which is something she has wanted for a long time. And although they no longer have the socialization aspect, I feel safer in general with the pandemic going on that our kiddo is out of child care, at least until they start school in August 😬.

As for the business struggles there are many. We are by no means financially well off, we just make it by, and starting a new business has put further strain on that until the business becomes profitable. One of the hardest parts of growing a business is getting your name out there. No one can buy your product if they don’t know you exist. To grow your brand identity you have to be active on all social media, which I struggle with, and be at the local events, something I also struggle with during the pandemic. Also we need events because even if we had enough sales on the website shipping costs are so high I usually take a bit of a loss on shipping cost, further eating into the profits. Trying to juggle safety and what I have to do to get the business off the ground is mentally exhausting. There are good struggles too as I mentioned my wife’s new job will be great for our family and as the business has grown we’ve run into growing pains. These are good pains but painful none the less. Things like equipment costs and keeping enough stock for demand. The old saying “You gotta spend money to make money.” is ringing true, but that’s hard because you have to have money to spend. I hope soon we can be profitable because at some point I’d like to feel like a business owner instead of unemployed 😞️.

A picture of the roaster I roast on
A picture of me and my wife in koi coffee gear

Final thoughts

I don’t want this to sound all gloom and doom so I’d like to pick things back up to a more positive note. I’m incredibly excited for this new chapter in our lives and I’m hopeful for what it can mean for our family. If we manage to be successful, I could finally be happy in my career helping to provide for my family. And honestly that’s what I want, to be happy and feel as though I contribute to my families happiness. So far, while it’s been incredibly stressful I really do enjoy what I do. We have many things to work through and I’m sure many more will pop up, but I believe in us and believe we can make this work. Personally I have been working on bettering myself and my mental health and I think starting this new career path has been a big step towards my overall happiness. I feel like friends and family have noticed a difference in me for the better and I finally feel like I’ve found what I’m good at. It’s an incredibly scary thing to leave the realm of tech and a “real job” for something I have to build from the ground up. It’s incredibly scary to navigate the challenges running a business and of being in a pandemic. Everything is kinda scary right now. But I’m facing these things and I believe I can come out on top.

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