google-site-verification=b7aBkrAXjuwhs4pjVzYwhvnOTZG52sbV5lOmky-XhdA
  • Tomas Lee

Redlands, A Secret Sanctuary For Coffee Roasters


This is a chapter continued from "Will The Roasters Survive In The Rural of CA?".

Each roaster I visited has its own fascinated startup story that won't be able to fully cover by just a paragraph or two. And my short, simple blog coverage could only explore my own perspective and experience during the visit, which might not comprehensively reflect their true nature. Perhaps, the best solution for you readers is to drop by their physical location to try their products yourself.

WILD GOOSE Coffee roasters | Redlands, ca

Products Score: 80 Service Score: 85 Store Score: 70

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5

Where I learned this brand name was from the Rosebud Coffee I've been in Pasadena, CA, and will talk about them in below.

Meanwhile, let's jump into one of the main characters of this blog, Wild Goose Coffee Roasters. Before going by, I briefly looked up their reviews on Yelp. Seem that they're highly rated by the locals in Redlands, even though they're several other much stronger contenders, like their beans customer Olive Avenue Market, in the same town. Whilst getting nearby their address, I thought the Google map directed me to the wrong location but eventually not. They resided in an industrial zone, where many large commercial warehouses were. They were hidden in the corner and had no obvious signage, except the "Coffee's Here" stood at the driveway entrance of the "Brewer’s Alley". There wasn't any visible signage outside the marquee, except the company's name and logo labeled outside the windows. Without carefully looking for the store, very likely you'll drive passing it .

Upon parking my car right out front of their unit, I walked in and immediately greeted by their staff. She's very generous and sociable. Asked me whether I'm a resident around the area, and she briefly introduced their business and activity like the Friday's Cupping. Whilst she acknowledged I learned their name from Rosebud, a 50 miles commute to visit and a gentle request to look around their storefront, she immediately offered me a personal tour of their entire operation. And then, I was introduced to the founders Nathan Westwick and Joe Capraro. Nate is mostly in charge of the business development and Joe, on the other hand, is focusing on the roasting operation. In the back warehouse, they were being very proud to share their story of the Probat Emmerich L12 roaster, in which they bought online and transported the unit all the way from La Jolla to Redlands. Quite some sweating labor work there, isn't it? At that point, they didn't yet tell me much abt their origin story and details abt their corporate mission until I figured their humble venture and goodwill from their website. What they have achieved in food donation (1.5+ Million lbs) commitment to the local community is very admirable to me. Thru the tour, Joe was very patiently explained his production procedure and coffee roasting recipes, such as beans selection method, temperature and quality control. And I was like an addict uninhabitable snapping photos for the record while he's doing the roasting. Later on, I found out not only their operation has a goodwill mission, but also an independent Sustainability Analysis Report by Teresa Onorati showed their roasting process generates very low carbon emission to protect against harming the environment in the community.

Sad to say, their operation is completely relying on them three persons, from retailing to wholesaling, to packaging, to marketing; Owning to the restraint of manual outputs, I also see a limit in their production volume and business scalability to aim more starving people.

To me personally, their cup of latte has a rich body and fruity flavor. And the art quality was up to a professional level.

Stepping into 2018, their website has just been updated (both founders' photo was removed for some reasons; I guess they're being shine from all the publicity). The very fundamental "Web 1.0" site layout is now carrying slightly more content and introductory abt their coffee beans on the front page, being more social-centric with a highlight of their missionary tagline #1equals10, every pound of beans sold will donate 10 lbs of food, and as well featuring their branded merchandises like hoodie and tee. Last but not least, brother Nate begins to blog posting abt their journey and mission.

In here, I sincerely wish them luck and be persistent in working on their decade-long food donation mission.

Augies Coffee Roasters | Redlands, ca

Products Score: 80 Service Score: 80 Store Score: 85

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5

Like how I stated in the previous chapter, I would like to visit their iconic red-bricked headquarter to sneak on their successful formula. Again, for an individual business to survive in a suburban town with only 68,747 in population, it ain't an easy task, specially opened for almost a decade now. To doing so, they must have gained suffice support from local residents and community leaders, but how? Let's find out.

Aside from their humble beginning, from zero experience in the coffee industry, learned from roasting to brewing, to sourcing, they also have set a rightful goodwill mission to serve as a "quality driven producer" to all Southern Californians and support farmers, locals, and non-profit organizations for a long-term partnership. They're striving to build a community, in which very well demonstrated in their headquarter store. That strong mission statement is profoundly written thru labeling on the wooden benches, featuring the art pieces created by the local artists, and sponsoring the neighbor city Riverside's Opprime cycling team.

Nowadays, the Redlands downtown has evolved to housing dozens of fascinating commerces, famous fast-food chains, and fine dinners, and mixed with a few historical buildings like the Santa Fe Depot train station and railroad built from the late 18th Century.

Nevertheless to say, in mid-late 20th Century, about the time the Augies founded, the city Redlands was nothing but the base of light manufacturing firms and the bedroom for the Norton Air Force Base personnel and contractor employees of the Lockheed Propulsion Company. I can imagine there wasn't much to explore for the locals, especially the youths. Therefore, naturally, the Augies, a coffee shop, became the center of all the community's activities, hosting the town hall meetings and so forth, also a hip place where especially the teens would like to chill out.

Welcoming the new century to come, I believe the Augies took a leap in marketing to rebrand themselves with stronger identity as a roaster for the new competition in a town like the Starbucks. Very noticeably sighted from the DNA of their very first location. To leverage today's technology in strengthening their brand awareness, they've fully utilized the bandwidth of social media like Instagram. Alas, the social media icons placed on the footer of their website are not directly linked to any of their accounts, but the default page of those media only, which defeated the purpose of their placement. More detail works are needed on their e-commerce development.

This headquarter location is decorated very differently from the Riverside's I visited. Indeed, the brand's iconic store has applied a lot more red elements to produce strong contrast in visual. Even just standing by the two-store building, you can feel the powerful energy from the exterior. The day I drove 45 miles to explore them was having heavy tears fell from the sky, but that didn't stop the locals risking to be wet and crunching in. The waiting line to order had stretched outside the store, and the room was completely packed without an empty seat including the "secret" back room, where's very likely used for coffee roasting production in their early stage. The artistic vibe was filled in the air. Every corner was integrated with a bit eye candies, even the power fuse box was no exception, and painted in red with its iconic storefront image. A lot of details inside. Moreover, they heavily invested in equipment to serve their immensely busy operation: La Marzocco GB5 express machine, Wilbur Curtic twin single cup undercounter coffee brewer, Nuova Simonelli Mythos Plus, and two Mahlkoenig Peak grinders. As well, customized in black and red to match their corporate's color theme. Seemingly to me, everything's carefully designed to create a robust brand identity be easily recognizable by customers. To further distinguish themselves and adopt the youngster culture, their baristas are all very stylish with multiple piercings, tattoos, and punks haircut. At the background, the latest music hits, not the Country, could be heard to accommodate the vibe.

Notwithstanding their branding, the Augies had failed to master the most important element in the User Experience (UX) of coffee roasters business: Product Consistency.

Comparing with the Riverside store the latte I previously had, this store's did have a stronger aroma flavor. Furthermore, theirs were more creamy and frothy, which proved maintaining quality consistency and academic learning to the staffs is a tough, challenging task. Without the ability to remotely control their product quality, they'll be constrained in expanding their business scale. Once more stores are further constructed in the distribution network, they'll definitely face obstacles to acquiring more brand equity from the competitive coffee market. This is where Blue Bottles Coffee wins their success today. My advice to the Augies is not to hesitate to steal a few tricks from other eminent roasters like the Philz Coffee. Or even, working with Venture Capitals, such as True Ventures, Index Ventures and Cowboy Ventures, to recruit more funds to the capital-intensive retail business, incubate their business potential and optimize the growth from others in their investment portfolio.

Rosebud Coffee | Pasadena, ca

Products Score: 75 Service Score: 85 Store Score: 70

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️🌟 3.5/5

Today is my 2nd visit to them and very grateful to be served by the barista Charlene Long, once was a foster youth living homeless in Compton, and the manager Stephenie Sharp, who managed Demitasse in Santa Monica. Just happened to be in town and wanna finish writing this blog before the month-end comes. Seem like they just have a little renovation in the front lobby with a few new wood shelves hanging on the wall to display their merchandise and the coffee beans exclusively supplied from the Wild Goose Coffee Roasters.

The very first visit was in last year when they were merely opened for less than two months (Grand Opening on Oct 10, 2017). I was welcomed by the program trainer and also the Assistant Director Elizabeth Barman. She introduced herself as Liz. By then, I felt very curious abt their origin story right after stepping inside the spacey retail. Unlike any roasters, there's a huge amount of space reserved for a baby stage to perform and toy storage area for the infants. Therefore, questions were unstoppably popping out from my mouth to her. Liz was kindly first explained their mission is to assist the at-risk youths from 18-24 transitioning out from the foster home back to the society. In there, they have already hired 5 youths with different backgrounds graduated from the cart program of the Rose City Church to work as baristas. Actually, the cafe was founded by the Lead Pastor Dan Davidson, whom also served as the Executive Director of the Rosebud Coffee, as an expansion of the Rose City Coffee (Surely, I'll pay them a visit later). And it's all began from six years ago when Dan and his wife opened the Rose City Church, provided food, clothing, and shelter for homeless youths who were living in the parking lot, and used the old coffee cart to help them develop the skills needed to land a job.

Now, the Rosebud runs like a for-profit company with the high standards for the coffee and food, and partners with other non-profits to find more trainees in the cafe.

With the consistent quality beans supplied by the Wild Goose, the cup of latte I have today brewed by Stephanie was tasted as good as the eggnog latte poured by Liz in before. Both were very frothy with a rich body and winey flavor. Aside from that, their website design is simple and informative but elegant. Very unfortunately that due to lack of resource or manpower to properly maintain, their "Gallery" page couldn't be loaded. And their social media accounts weren't highlighted on their site to gain more followers. With their excellent service and generous, I did enjoy my time there and delighted to #supportthecause.

Thanks for reading! :) Please comment and press ⭐️ below if you liked this article. Your responses would help me to improve the quality of content and other readers.

#CoffeeTour

©2020 Tomas Lee All Rights Reserved.