Sometimes dreams can suck.
Have you ever had a passion or dream but felt it was too unreasonable to actually pursue it? Maybe you felt as if you could give it a go as a hobby, but you didn't let yourself pursue it beyond that due to the unreasonability that the unction contained. I feel you.
My wife and I are at a place right now where we both work 40 hours a week at jobs that we love. And we have this dream on the side that we are able to get a glimpse of usually 10-15 hours a week. And we would love one day for this dream to be something that we can live off of completely. We want it to change others' lives for the better. We want it to change us.
We are in the here-now. We are in the murky middle stage of having a business that is growing, that people enjoy, but at the same time, we have our responsibilities that we need to take care of. We like our day jobs...and we are both pretty good at them. So, at least one of us per week ends up working 60+ hours (sometimes reaching closer to 80). We get very little sleep. We don't have much play time. We don't have much rest.
We get tired. We get aggravated. We think about giving up.
But, then sometimes these little inklings occur. A customer comes up and tells us that its the best cup of coffee they have ever had. A mother comes up whose daughter in Tennessee told her that she saw we were open on facebook and that she must go out and partake for her. A engaged couple is excited with the idea of us being at their wedding reception. We are told that we have made someone's day by giving them a free drink. It all becomes worth it.
It all comes down to grit. For us, coffee grit. Its one thing to be on the grind, working tirelessly to try to keep a business afloat, pushing forward through exhaustion. But, the grind usually is motivated by $. (Coffee) grind isn't enough for us to pursue this dream and passion. A little extra money isn't enough for us to push through the days we want to call it quits. But, (coffee) grit is.
Every time we get to see a smile on someone's face after putting 100% into each cup of coffee we make, it is fulfilling the reason why we decided to start Nomad. It gives us hope and determination that the next step is possible in our current situation. It gives us the strength to press on and figure out a wonky way to adjust our schedules so we can open up more to serve people, to meet new friends, and to try to make the best coffee that we can.
For those who don't know about our story, Nomad started off in a cup of french press in a dorm room. I wondered where coffee came from - who picked the fruit that the "beans" came from that ultimately were exported and then roasted? What were their families like? What about their communities and cultures? Then, it was a dream on paper. The original name of the company was going to be "Acacia Coffee Company", coming from the Acacia trees in Africa, which are symbolic for love and immortality.
Then, I met Jeanne and somehow she got on board with my weird passion and hobby. Next thing you know, I am working at a local coffee shop on top of my full time job, just to learn. Next, I get a job with a coffee roaster, learning more about the technical aspects of coffee while being a sales rep and explaining coffee to potential customers. Then, a big step occurs - Jeanne and I have an opportunity to scrape up our money and purchase equipment that will allow us to dabble into the coffee business for ourselves. We purchase an espresso machine, grinder, and other ins and outs that would be what we need to start something small.
We hold on to this stuff not knowing when we would really get to use it. In the meantime, I received an opportunity to roast coffee at a local shop for a short season while Jeanne worked there and became a respected barista. And then we took a leap of faith and decided to raise money to go on a business as mission trip to Rwanda, Africa to hang out with coffee farmers - to learn from them, to love them, and to see what our dream could be expressed as reality. Then, it happened: Jeanne Beans Espresso Catering was formed.
We got our first gig by a reference from a coffee shop that wasn't available to do a wedding. So, we got the additional needed supplies and threw them in my Jeep, and we had a coffee shop on wheels. And it was a success. It was the first part of living the dream. And it was the birth of our coffee grit. We did only weddings for about a year.
A couple of years ago, we decided to take the next big step and we formed Nomad Coffee Company, LLC. A few months later, we decided to take out a business loan and get a coffee trailer. To my knowledge, we are the first completely mobile coffee shop in the model of trailer/food truck in Virginia. Whereas other coffee companies may have had their hands in catering or even had a trailer to accommodate their storefront, we started with only catering and then added a completely mobile unit. This year, we decided to take out a couple more business loans to invest in our business and get an awesome inverter generator and a state of the art espresso machine (Slayer). To Slayer's knowledge, we were the first company to use one of their machines in a business setting in Virginia. Through time, hard work, and determination, and the fuel that we receive when we see a happy customer or meet a new friend, we continue to raise the stakes and push more and more chips to the center of the table.
We have developed something we are proud of. We have also been exhausted and devastated at times. We have even felt like giving up (on multiple occasions). But, its the dream that keeps us going. Its the belief that there is something in this life that we are all meant for. It is the understanding that success is possible for anyone who works hard enough for it. It is the thought that you can make a difference in your world if you put your spirit, heart, and mind to it. It is the seemingly unreasonable belief in grit. But hey, if everything were easy and reasonable, this life would be boring.
And that my friends, is our story of coffee grit. What's your grit story? What's your dream? What inklings or glimmers have you seen with your dream becoming a reality?