Welcome Mission Brew Coffee (MBC) – a successful independent shop in San Diego. MBC is run by three co-founders, brothers Jeremy and Josh Moffit, and their business partner Kevin Wise. They started in 2014 to deliver quality coffee in San Diego while building unpretentious, fulfilling relationships with customers.
CoffeeShopr: Hi guys! All three of you have successful careers outside the coffee industry. What made you decide to open a shop, and how does running a coffee business compares to working in other fields that you’ve worked at?
MBC: We wanted to open Mission Brew Coffee primarily because we thought our business model was a great idea and helped to serve a portion of the coffee market that was not being served in San Diego – those consumers who desired the quality of a specialty coffee shop but also the speed and convenience of a more fast food style shop.
Running a coffee business is a blast because there is constant interaction with people. We regularly have ongoing conversations with our customers, suppliers, the growing San Diego specialty coffee community, and those we serve in the neighborhood through our community service projects. Creating those relationships and seizing opportunities to be a blessing to others makes running a coffee business unique.
People love Mission Brew Coffee
CoffeeShopr: What are the major benefits of owning and managing a coffee shop with as many partners? Are there any drawbacks?
MBC: Three heads are better than one! We all bring unique gifts and talents to the table and that makes Mission Brew Coffee better as a whole. Our interaction allows ideas to surface that may not have ever come to fruition had any of us tried to open a shop on our own. We’ve also all known each other since growing up together in a rural town in Iowa so there is a lot of trust built up between us. That trust is crucial for owning and running a business together. Lastly, we would simply say that it is just more enjoyable than if any of us were running a coffee shop on our own. Running a business with other partners spreads the burdens of ownership and increases the joy of shared successes. We lean on each other and enjoy building something together.
The only drawback is efficiency. It would certainly be more efficient to run a business by yourself because you could make all the decisions without having to run them by others. However, ultimately this isn’t really a drawback because with most decisions it is beneficial to have multiple people giving input and making a decision together. Better decisions get made even if it is slightly less efficient.
Running a business with other partners spreads the burdens of ownership and increases the joy of shared successes. We lean on each other and enjoy building something together.
CoffeeShopr: Great reviews on Yelp, congratulations! What is the philosophy behind customer service that you offer and that everyone loves so much?
MBC: At Mission Brew Coffee, we believe that we have been blessed to be a blessing. We want to benefit our suppliers, investors, neighborhood, employees, and customers. We believe that it is a blessing to give our customers a high quality product, but equally as important is giving them a positive experience. This positive experience is only possible through good conversation. We believe in creating real relationships with our customers and having ongoing conversations. This goes beyond just saying “have a nice day.” We believe it is something more authentic. Think about it – if a customer comes to Mission Brew Coffee 5 days a week and spends 5 minutes there each time that is nearly 22 hours in a year we’ve spent with that customer. That is a lot of conversation and more than enough time to truly get to know, serve, and be a blessing to someone. We also invite our customers, employees, and neighbors to participate in our regular service projects to help support our community.
CoffeeShopr: What were some of the biggest challenges in starting your business? What advice would you give those starting today?
MBC: We have overcome many obstacles but we are still in the infancy of starting our business so there are many challenges still ahead. As with most business, one of the greatest challenges is simply having the capital necessary to start and continue to run a business while building a customer base.
We would advise anyone starting a new business to make sure you have enough capital to not only get your doors open but to keep them open while you build your revenue streams. It simply takes time to build a customer base to support your business and most things cost more than you think it will – from equipment to employee costs to the unexpected emergencies – running a business is expensive.
We have learned much by trial and error. Every business operates in a unique context and Mission Brew Coffee is no different – so unfortunately there is no “magic bullet” that we could bestow on anyone opening a new business. It takes time and experience to figure out what works and to make things the most efficient and economical as possible while still maintaining the vision for your company.
We would advise anyone starting a new business to make sure you have enough capital to not only get your doors open but to keep them open while you build your revenue streams.
CoffeeShopr: How did you get your training for the coffee industry?
MBC: The specialty coffee community in San Diego is amazing! There are a lot of events and training opportunities for free to those who simply take the initiative to soak up the knowledge of others with years of experience. We’ve been involved with the San Diego Coffee Network since before we opened our doors. They have been great at connecting us with those who are interested in seeing specialty coffee thrive in San Diego. Our local roasters have also been great at providing training to us and our employees.
CoffeeShopr: Reviewers enjoy your “Text to Order” service. How frequently is it used and what kind of customers use it most?
MBC: Mission Brew Coffee’s “Text to Order” is used frequently. We are located at a community center so employees at the center often take advantage of our Text to Order on their breaks or lunch so that their drinks or food are ready when they arrive. We also have several commuters who take advantage of the Text to Order. We do not have a drive-thru so this helps to ensure that commuters get their drinks/food quickly if they are on their way to/from work – often even faster than a drive-thru would allow since their order is already ready when they arrive. Those who take advantage of our system definitely enjoy it. Most who have tried it out once are hooked and become regular “texters.”
CoffeeShopr: How popular is Mission’s Cold Brew coffee? Do you believe many customers are aware about the difference between regularly prepared iced coffee and cold brew or is this knowledge something that is still being cultivated?
MBC: Mission Cold Brew Coffee is one of our most popular drinks. From the beginning we knew we had to offer an amazing iced coffee since we operate in the warm weather city of San Diego. As a result, we experimented with cold brew coffee more than any other single drink before we opened. Our customers have been pleased with the results and we have enjoyed educating many about the cold brew process.
Many of our customers already know the difference between cold brew and hot brewed iced coffee. The average coffee drinker in San Diego is fairly educated about the coffee they consume, and Mission Brew Coffee attracts a lot of coffee drinkers who are seeking higher quality than what other shops may offer. As a result, many customers come to Mission Brew Coffee just for our cold brew coffee. We certainly take advantage of every opportunity to promote our cold brew coffee for those who do not know the difference and find that people are often amazed at the difference. We seek to cultivate knowledge about coffee for all of our drinks and our cold brew coffee is no different. Coffee has such an amazing process from bean to cup. We are still learning, and we love passing on what we are learning to our customers.
CoffeeShopr Note: If you didn’t know, cold brewing is brewing coffee in a way that doesn’t involve heat, therefore reducing its acidity. Done by soaking ground beans in water for a long period of time, usually 12 – 24 hours. Cold brew method naturally produces noticeably sweeter flavor perfect for a warm day.
MBC’s popular Cold Brew by SS Photography
CoffeeShopr: Please describe your experience with Kickstarter. In the end, you were more than halfway close to your goal (see MBC’s campaign here). Do you think that every coffee business owner should try his luck with Kickstarter to raise funds? What factors in your opinion affect the possibility of reaching the goal?
MBC: We had a positive experience with Kickstarter. There are several crowd funding sites so it might be worth looking at them all, but we’d recommend Kickstarter to anyone who is interested in finding alternative ways to fund their projects.
We aren’t sure that crowd funding makes sense in every context, but it certainly made sense for us. Even if you don’t reach your goal it is a great way to advertise and get the word out about your new business. It also invites people to take “ownership” in the success of your business and gives them the opportunity to see what you bring to the table that separates you from everyone else.
The biggest factor is simply being realistic about the goal you set. It needs to be attainable so know your network of potential backers before you set your goal. Obviously, you also need to have a cool project that people are excited to get behind and offer some cool rewards for those who donate. Then promote, promote, promote.
Even if you don’t reach your goal crowdfunding is a great way to advertise and get the word out about your new business.
CoffeeShopr: Is there something else you would like to share with our readers?
MBC: Hire the best employees! Don’t settle for less. People make your business run. You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t have good people running your business it will not succeed. Employees will likely be your greatest cost whether you have good ones or bad ones so make sure they are the best you can possibly hire. People are also what makes running a business fun and worthwhile. Ultimately people are the most important thing about your business so make sure you treat them that way.
Starting Mission Brew Coffee has not been all carefree fun and sunny days. Opening a business is hard work! Be prepared for long hours and many ups and downs. However, it is also very educational and rewarding. We have learned more about the practical side of starting a business than most college classes can teach. People have many choices for coffee so it is cool to see when someone makes us part of their daily routine because they like what we have to offer. Nothing is more rewarding than having the opportunity to be a blessing to people daily!
Nothing is more rewarding than having the opportunity to be a blessing to people daily!
CoffeeShopr: Thanks guys, it was great talking to you! Goodspeed to Mission Brew Coffee and its “mission” beyond coffee. Like MBC’s Facebook page here & stay tuned to CoffeeShopr.com! Lots more is coming…