Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's Alive! It's Alive!

Yes it is live, the website. In all it's e-commerce glory. It was tough but I'm pretty proud of it. There are still a few things I would like to tinker with, like getting the USPS API's working but alas my non-programmer mind is a little fried right now so give me a some time to build my brain cells. Oh yeah check it out, and do some holiday shopping while your their by clicking on online store. Start a trend and instead of getting your friends, family or coworkers Starbucks (bleck!) get them 9 bar espresso! Well even ship it to them directly for you. If you call me personally who knows I may even gift wrap it for you. Just don't ask me to bake some cookies for it too I really don't have the time. Although I may have something there because I make some really great cookies.

All fun aside being a small business owner is tough work, just like being a parent, and I wouldn't trade it for anything! Tune in next time when we have the next update on the adventures of 9 bar espresso!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Learning Curve

Yes I knew there would be a learning curve for us here at 9 bar espresso, me especially going into the coffee business. That being said I didn't quite expect there to be such a curve in doing our labels for our wholesale 2 lb. and retail 1 lb. bags of espresso. I've got over eight years experience as a graphic designer and I've designed labels before but a retail food product has a whole other dimension I did not foresee.

Corey is familiar with Richmark Label in Seattle ( because the company he was with before used them. So that is who we decided to go ahead and work with however the sales guy he had used before was no longer with the company so we ended up talking to Robert Fass who was fairly new and took over the old guys account. Corey wasn't sure if we should deal with a new guy but I said, "Why not, I'm new to it too and I'll be the one working with him."

I sent my initial designs over and Robert quoted them, easy enough. But then Corey and I started thinking about productivity and hand labeling, then about as our business grows machine labeling, oh yeah and 'what is required for retail food labeling?' I let Robert know where we were at and he rolled with it and said to just send him new art to quote when we were ready. I had some research to do, where do you find food labeling requirements you can understand anyway? I so happened to luck out and find a great powerpoint presentation called "Ins and outs of food labeling part 1" here is the link for those of you who are wondering:

Come to find out what I suspected was true and I was also relieved to find out coffee and tea are not required to have nutrition facts like a lot of other food products. Corey and I finalized the new design only to have Robert tell us they didn't have a stock die that size for machine application (again for those of you who don't know find out the rewind number before you pick your dye size! For most it is #2). Corey and I were bummed but then I reasoned that it really would be worth it to see how much a custom dye would be for the retail espresso bags because we want 9 bar espresso to look as good as it tastes! We compromised and ended up using a stock dye size for the wholesale 2 lb. bags and a custom one for our retail 1 lb. bags. Turns out the custom one wasn't that expensive about right in the middle of my bet and Corey's bet. It wasn't over yet though. Just as I had sent over the final, final artwork for our 9 bar espresso medium roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated I get a call from Corey saying, "What do you think about doing the organic labels now too?" Aaaaccckk! I just had wrapped everything up with Robert so naturally as a graphic designer and a wife I was a little frustrated but I was willing to get it done if it was good for the business. So I asked why the sudden revelation and Corey said the last two days he had been out talking with our customers and letting them know about our new retail offerings and new blends including the organic he was getting an overwhelming positive response to the organic. Ok I get it, we needed to do it because the market was demanding it. So I swallowed my pride and called up Robert one more time. He was great, said no problem that it was a smart thing to do and I got him the additional new artwork for our 9 bar espresso organic blend.

Whew! It took about a week and a half but the labels have been taken care of AND I feel good about our choices. It's hard to strike the balance of getting good looking product and making sure it is done in a cost effective manner. Plus I'm happy we are using minimum packaging while keeping a certain asthetic. Nothing bugs me more than a product that is over packaged, too much waste and not eco-friendly. I'm happy Corey is on board with me in making 9 bar espresso an affordable eco-friendly company. After I finish writing this blog entry I'm going to triumphantly march over to our dry erase board and gleefully erase "order labels" from my list.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Coffee Fest Seattle

Corey was at Coffee Fest Seattle last weekend (September 12-14) and he said it was interesting to see it from a consumers point of view. Previously he had been there as a vendor with another company. He felt it was really sparse this year and some booths shouldn't have even been allowed to display like the ones selling jewelry. Really?! Jewelry!? What does that have to do with coffee? I find it amazing what the independent coffee house will get distracted with. So many are trying so hard to generate income they forget what they are there for in the first place, coffee. Many independent owners get so distracted with other things like smoothies, blended drinks, and god forbid a lunch menu that they throw the one thing by the wayside that got them there in the first place the coffee! I've had far too many horrible espresso drinks with a decent sandwich to count, people shouldn't come to your coffee house for lunch, they should come for the espresso.

That's what we're trying to help the independent owner with, getting their customer to come to them because they have great espresso ... 9 bar espresso! We realize it's more than a great espresso roast it has a lot to do with properly trained baristas and great customer service but we want to help them with that too.

So here we are just beginning the exciting part of the journey we have our toll free number now and I have a landing page set up for our website. Corey is at the roasting facility right now, he's actually waiting on UPS to deliver our one pound retail bags so he can bag what he roasted yesterday. We're still trying to figure out the label sizes, we really should have gotten these ordered Monday but that's the way it usually goes when your a small business owner trying to take care of everything yourselves. That's all I got for now. I'll be back to give you an update on how the launch of our retail packaging goes with our wholesale clients.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yeah It keeps us runnin'...

We've done it! Yes we have, Corey and I have taken our years of experience working for other people and jumped right in! No more complaining about the boss getting us down because we are the boss ... and the production staff, customer service rep, webmaster, etc., you get the picture. So here we are with a great product, 9 bar espresso. Corey has been roasting and and selling this product for about four years now and it has had good success but now we are here to take it to the next level with our own branding. 9 bar espresso is fresh, full-bodied, espresso roasts with a rich complexity that is delicious from beginning to end. Dare I say chocolaty, no not even dare because it is! I love true gourmet high coco content dark chocolate and this espresso is the coffee form of this kind of dark chocolate. Did I drink black coffee before meeting Corey? No and I never thought I would but it only took a few months of dating him and I was in love with rich black coffee. Now a dog, a house, a marriage, and a baby later I'm still in love with Corey and his rich espresso. So much so his dream of bringing his passion for espresso to others has become mine and we're in it together. So I look forward to updating you on our business, our updated website (, and our coffee filled life here in San Diego.