Imagine What is Next

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SO, TO START OUR SIP&CHAT, WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING RIGHT NOW?   

I am drinking a Pier Coffee iced breve. It's Pier Coffee mixed with (a lot of!) half-and-half over ice and sweetened with some agave syrup. It tastes like a milkshake and I might have another.

 

IT IS NO SECRET TO ME THAT YOU LOVE COFFEE; I HAVE MANY MEMORIES WITH YOU AND A ‘CUP O JOE’ AS THE COMMON THREAD THAT LINKED THEM (ALONG WITH THREADS OF GRATEFUL DEAD AND HOLEY JEANS … BUT ANYWAY).  WHAT WHERE THE ORIGINAL INLKLINGS OF THOUGTH THAT LEAD TO THE CREATION OF YOUR COLD BREWED COFFEE? 

I have been in the specialty coffee industry for several years -- previously as a cafe owner -- and I fell in love with general feeling in the industry that coffee can improve the world. Coffee is the second largest globally traded commodity, behind oil, and there is a constant conversation in the specialty coffee sector about how the global coffee trade can support sustainable farming practices and direct trade relationships, and the way a consumer choice in Seattle can impact the life of a farmer in Burundi. I stepped away from my cafe about a year ago, but I had the sense that I wanted to stay close to those kind of conversations and the people who were so genuinely passionate about their work.

Cold brewed coffee fascinated me as a cafe owner because of how accessible and "drinkable" it is. 

My customers who regularly ordered mochas or heavily flavored lattes would try cold brew and could drink it black.

Cold brew is smooth and easy to drink it gives people a chance to really taste the richness and complexity of coffee and, as a coffee lover, it is so fun to see.

So all of this was swirling around me and then, in the course of a few inspiring conversations with friends, Pier Coffee just kind of came together. Often in life it seems like ideas (excuse the bad coffee pun) percolate in our brains and bubble to the surface, fully realized, when we need direction or encouragement.


WAS THERE A POINT WHEN THOSE INKLINGS AND IDEAS BECAME A CONCRETE REALITY? 

As a company, Pier Coffee came together pretty quickly but the reality of brewing, bottling, distributing, marketing, and etc. is a long way from concrete. It's dynamic and exciting, but sometimes feels a little like tap dancing on a water bed. And, in that way, it is a lot like parenting! Just when it feels like you understand your 3 1/2 year old they turn 4 and everything changes and then everything changes again in completely new ways with each kid.


WAS THERE EVER FEAR? FOR CREATING A BUSINESS, FOR PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE? 

Oh gosh, Hillz. There hasn't been any fear for about 15 minutes since I've been concentrating on answering your questions but, other than that, YES! All the time! There are real and practical fears about being a single mom and creating a business that I hope will support my kids. Am I going to be able to do it? If I fail, how am I going to keep the lights on and food on the table? Starting and running a business takes up a lot of emotional and intellectual space and I worry that I am taking too much of my energy away from my kids in my attempts to support them.

And, putting myself out there is definitely scary as well. 

Anytime we create something that we care about -- a product, a blog, a carefully prepared meal for our family -- the reaction to it feels, in a way, like a reaction to us.

There is also that feeling -- maybe it is motivation more than fear -- of having found work that I love and am excited about and wanting to do it well and be successful. I look around at other women and other moms I know who are putting themselves out there and pouring themselves into their work, either at home or outside the home (or, often, both!) and it makes me want to contribute just as much as they do to my family and my community.


TELL ME ABOUT THE BREWERY, AND HOW IT WAS BUILT, AND A BIT ABOUT HOW COLD BREWED COFFEE IS MADE.  

The Pier Brewery was built by my dad, and every time I think about that I just want to burst with gratitude. It is a little slice of space in the world where I feel completely comfortable and all the other dissonant noise of life seems to fall away. It's funny because it's tiny and isn't much to look at (although it smells like amazing) but I love being in there and at work.

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Cold brewed coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in filtered water. The process is like baking in the sense that it requires strict attention to measurement and timing, but still allows for creativity to respond to the seasonal roasts we use. For example, we are brewing with beans from Bolivia right now and you can smell the notes of cocoa and apricot. Depending on the temperature, the ph levels, the ratios and the specific equipment we use, the result can have more pronounced chocolate flavors or a really full taste of fruit and apricot. It is exciting and challenging to play with this depending on what we are brewing for, the season, the customer response.


HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME ‘PIER COFFEE’? 

I am something of a water baby and the strongest feeling of freedom I know is racing down a pier or dock and leaping into the water. That sense of letting go and leaping into the unknown inspires me often, but it also what the coffee is about. You don't need any special equipment or technique to drink Pier Coffee. You can take it anywhere, mix it how you like, Pier Coffee can ride along on a road trip or on your sailboat. 

Piers, to me, are places of adventure, of imagining what is next, of taking the plunge and coffee, as a beverage, inspires that as well by bringing people together in conversation, sparking moments of creativity and keeping us awake all night to go dancing.



I JUST FOUND PIER COFFEE ON INSTAGRAM, GREAT PHOTOS BY THE WAY!!  BY LOKING AT THE PICTURES, I CAN SEE THAT THE LOCAL COMMUNITY SEEMS TO BE SUPPORTING AND LOVING PIER COFFEE TOO.  HOW HARD WAS IT TO INCORPORATE YOUR PRODUCT INTO LOCAL STORES, PUBS, ETC?  AND HOW MUCH OF YOUR TIME IS SPENT HAND DELIVERING ORDERS? 

Thank you! I love Instagram. I have a tendency to over-think words in my head to the point I get stuck writing things down so, as a social media outlet Instagram, is so fun! No words necessary. Getting Pier Coffee in local stores is an ongoing process but it is so rewarding. You asked about the feeling of fear that comes with putting oneself out there and one thing I can say is that making sales calls for Pier Coffee has been a wonderful reminder that people are fantastic and nothing to fear. Every single store I have visited has been welcoming and kind and, even if Pier Coffee doesn't end up on their shelves (yet), I have been so well treated by the community. In the course of taking Pier Coffee into the world I have been continually reminded that people are kind, generous, and helpful.

I spend a lot of time hand delivering orders. My kids have a very early morning ritual of fumbling around for pillows and blankets and then falling back asleep in the car as we deliver coffee to individual homes and stores. When we started, I think they knew every house we visited because we were so well supported by friends, but now they are seeing some new homes and new parts of town during our early morning deliveries and my serious older child is doing math in the back seat and encouraging me to find even more customers so we can take a trip to Legoland.


IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN SAY, ABOUT HOW PIER COFFEE HAS ENRICHED YOUR MOTHERHOOD, AND/OR VICE VERSA? 

Pier Coffee wouldn't be possible without my kids; they absolutely inspire and enrich everything I do. They make me want to be my best self. Since my oldest child was a year, I have worked either at my own cafe or for small non-profits and my kids have just been along for the ride. I've been pregnant and painting the trim at my cafe, in labor (although I didn't want to admit it) and working on an arts festival, making lattes and keeping my fingers crossed that nap time in the cafe kitchen would stretch just a little longer and now we are on this new adventure together. For a long, long time I agonized over this. I worried that they were being dragged through my life instead of me opening up doors onto theirs: we don't go to the library as much as I want, we eat a lot of tacos, I have spent so many soccer practices working from my phone and I keep my fingers crossed that there are shoes in the car because often one of the three of us is missing a pair when we pull in somewhere. One day I expressed all of these concerns to a mentor mother (isn't it great to have other moms to look up to) and she pulled me aside and reminded me how brilliantly adaptable kids are. 

They are sponges built to absorb love and knowledge everywhere they go and our job as parents is to give kids a platform (or a pier) that is stable and built on a foundation of love and respect. 

They will gather the tools they need and leap off when they are ready. I think most parents do the best we can building a platform for our kids in whatever way we can and I am filled with hope when I look at my friends -- all working and parenting differently -- and their wonderful kids who will one day leap into their own brilliant futures.

As far as being an entrepreneur, there are some strong similarities to parenting. How many times have we mothers woken up with a plan for the day and watched it collapse before 7:30 AM, and yet, through creativity, determination, love, (and sometimes complete stubbornness) pulled it all together anyway? Having a business is like that. I imagine and visualize how a day will unfold and then spend a considerable amount of time adjusting and rethinking what I thought I knew. And, as with parenting, the unexpected can lead to joy, creativity, and growth.

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To learn more about and/or order some pier coffee go to: www.PierCoffee.com.  

You can look through her eyes on Instagram under the profile name: pier coffee

To read about my first package of pier coffee, click here.






 © Houseman 2013