About this time last year, we were putting the finishing touches on our April+May issue, which was our 9th anniversary issue and would be the one we would distribute thousands of copies of at the big SCAA show in Seattle. It was one of our most fun and popular covers to date, with Chris Baca and Jared Truby ”then both of the Santa Cruz specialty roaster Verve ”chilling (Truby) and riding (Baca) in a local skate park.
Oh, how things can change in a year. With lots of tears and tons of support from their old bosses at Verve, Baca and Truby set south, each headed for an up-and-coming coffee retailer with roasting on its mind. When tossing the idea around with his old friends and former Verve co-workers, Jon and Sara Peterson ”the owners of the young but already super successful San Luis Obispo, Calif. cafe, Scout Coffee Co. ”on whether they could and should start a roasting company together, the choice for all three was pretty easy.
Fast forward a few months, and meet HoneyCo Coffee, which launched online just yesterday. This video pretty much sums it up:
Knowing these three, the standards for quality are set sky-high, and an understanding of what they’ll need to offer on the backend to make HoneyCo a great wholesale choice is firmly under their belts. I was so excited when Baca emailed me the other day to tell me HoneyCo was here that I begged him to give me some back story so I could share it with you. Here is what he said:
HoneyCo fell together sort of on accident, but pretty quickly. Jon, Sara, and I have worked together for a long time in coffee ”working retail, training for competitions, putting on big events like the Southwest Regional Barista Competition, running the marketing department at Verve where we made the Street Smarts video series, and lots more. We’ve always had a very similar, but also very complimentary, approach to both coffee and business, and HoneyCo gave us an outlet for a really natural collaboration.
Back in July, I was looking into the possibility of starting a retail coffee location, and called Jon and Sara to talk through some of their experience in starting Scout. The conversation pretty quickly led us to talking about how fun it would be to starting a roasting company together ”with all of our shared vision and complimentary skill sets, it just seemed like a really good fit. Less than a week later, we had a business plan together and Jon pitched it to a local bank here in San Luis Obispo, who expressed a lot of interest from the first meeting. Within just a couple weeks, we had a loan in place, and I knew it was time to quit my job at Verve and move to San Luis Obispo. In September, we ended up moving in right next door to the Petersons, and then we spent the first couple months building HoneyCo out of the garage that separates our houses.
Soon after, we were able to secure a location, line up our equipment, finish up branding, make a bunch of new videos, and fine tune our coffee approach while roasting hundreds sample batches on our SF-1. We finished the build-out at our roastery just before the beginning of the year, and right around that time, we began roasting all the coffee at Scout, which has grown into a large wholesale account after just over a year in business. It was a really exciting time to actually test our coffees in the real world, and we were blown away by all the positive feedback we got on it ”the customers at Scout love it.
Scout and HoneyCo are separate companies, with Jon and Sara as the sole owners of Scout, and all three of us representing the full ownership of HoneyCo. The three of us are all intricately involved in every step of production, and we all love it that way. All of our design, web, and video work is done in-house by me and Jon, and Sara is always a creative force and has some big projects in the pipe that you’ll be seeing soon. Even though we all have our specialties, everything is a collaborative effort when it comes to planning and execution.
As for wholesale, we are very intentionally built and ready to take on new accounts right out of the gates. As a team, we’ve been on both sides of the wholesaler/retailer relationship, which gives us a unique perspective on what retail operations need from their coffee provider to experience success and have fun doing it.
Thanks for the insight, Chris! We couldn’t be more excited for you guys!