From Journalism to Coffee
It was the summer of 2012 when I woke up on a Monday morning, the week after I graduated college with a journalism degree, to find that about 300 journalists had been laid off from the Chicago Tribune. I remember calling my mother in a panic hoping someone could give me a solution or calm me down. She said, “why don’t you just go apply at the coffee shop? You need to have something to pay the bills.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. What terrible advice.” I thought. HA. It didn’t take long before I acted on that advice and applied at Water Street Coffee Joint in Kalamazoo.
Catching the Coffee Bug
They hired me in at their roasting facility and two weeks into my coffee career, I was being taught to roast. I began learning about bean types, roast curves, air-flow, monitoring bean temps., and how to make certain adjustments to develop specific flavor profiles. The science behind coffee roasting was so amazingly vast to me that I discovered it was just as much of an art as it was a science. I began learning about brewing coffee and the amazing ways one can brew coffee to extract the best flavors from the bean. Even more vast than roasting and brewing, was the incredible expanse of origins in which coffee beans are cultivated and produced. Learning about the living conditions of coffee farmers and their backgrounds inspired me to work harder to treat their beans with respect. But to do that, I had to learn more. I’d work for 8.5 to 9 hours per day only to come home and research coffee. I was enthralled with every piece of information I was reading and before long, I realized I was nearing the end of my time at that particular roaster. I had too much information and not enough freedom to make an impact. I’d caught the coffee bug.
Seed, Plant, Water, Bloom
In November of 2013, the decision was made to start- what would be- Bloom Coffee Roasters. The hardest part was figuring out how to leave the comfort of job that I loved. In March of 2014, I asked that my employment be terminated and two weeks later, on April 1st 2014, Bloom Coffee Roasters was born, out of a 2 bedroom, student-living house, with a 1lb. roaster and a few small bags of beans. Those months, from November ’13 to April ’14, were the scariest moments of my life. I was newly engaged to my fiancé, dead-broke from paying off student loans and not making very much money, and now jobless. We were both terrified. Not to mention, that little 1lb. roaster would set off our fire alarm every time I’d roast.
Still living in Kalamazoo, we knew it was time to find some real customers and a buddy of mine told me that the employees at his office would love our coffee. So one bright and sunny day, I roasted a few pounds and hopped on my skateboard to make my first official delivery. Yes… I delivered Bloom’s first business to business order on my skateboard (livin’ the dream). But still, we had to find a real home for Bloom Coffee Roasters.
Calling Lansing “Home”
I honestly don’t know what it was, but Lansing, MI seemed incredibly attractive to me. Something felt so right about the idea of the Capital of Michigan, Michigan State University, agriculture, industry, etc. To me, Lansing had it all. Through a little research and networking, the business community seemed extremely supportive and eager to have us there. There was a passion for small, local business with craft products that had previously spread like wild fire through cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, but this was a relatively new idea to Lansing. The opening was there.It was time to make a move.
Bloom landed in Old Town shortly after a small touring of Lansing to figure out where we wanted to be. It immediately felt like home. I felt something in Old Town that I didn’t feel anywhere else; a sense of community and togetherness and an positive energy to change and grow. We signed the lease and immediately began to Bloom in Old Town.
Now we’re here; roasting and growing every day and we’re to stay. I knew I never wanted a job where I’d have to wear a suit to work and answer to a boss forever, but I never thought I’d be here. Now, I can’t imagine my life without these experiences. Lansing, Bloom Coffee Roasters and my family and friends are constant reminders that Life is Beautiful and Love is Simple; in your coffee mug.