From Local Shops to Subscription Services, Smalltime Coffee Companies Thriving In Competitive Market

Approximately 30% of the population drinks coffee on a consistent basis. Whether it’s starting each morning with a drive to Tim Hortons or getting some afternoon work done inside a Starbucks, coffee is an essential part of life for so many Americans.

It can be difficult for smaller shops to compete with the likes of Starbucks, Tim Hortons, and other massive businesses. Starbucks brought in roughly $22.4 billion last year and Tim Hortons earns an annual revenue of $3 billion. Although multibillion-dollar corporations like these certainly hold a firm grasp on the coffee market, smaller, family-owned shops can still be quite successful — it all comes down to branding.

According to the Daily Bruin, the Enriquez family transformed a farmhouse into a family-friendly coffee shop. Heritage Coffee in Oxnard, California, is operated by Theresa Enriquez, her husband, and their two sons. Though Oxnard isn’t exactly known for its independent coffee shop success, the Enriquez family hopes to create a shop where city residents can enjoy some locally sourced products in a friendly and welcoming environment.

“It was kind of cozy, and our idea was to make it very friendly, and just be a place where you can be at home,” Enriquez said. “Family, home — they both influence each other.”

It all starts with the signage. In order to get locals and passersby to physically come into Heritage Coffee, Theresa’s husband spends time standing outside the shop, directing people with a sign to garner more traffic. Approximately 70% of consumers have indicated that the quality of a company’s sign directly reflects the quality of the business itself.

Their oldest son, Carlos Larios, manages the shop and works as a barista, while their youngest son, Andres Larios, helps with interior design and is currently developing their website. Theresa, in addition to assisting each one of her family members with various aspects of the business, also runs her own medical practice.

“People say, ‘Oh, it’s Oxnard,’ and look down our noses at us a little bit,” she added. “But we’ve found quite a bit of people who have appreciated the coffee.”

Another smalltime coffee shop opened up that focuses more on the digital aspect of business. According to the Kane County Chronicle, Angela Oehlerking and her husband, Andrew, spent time living in Nicaragua and were inspired to open up Good Trip Coffee in 2016. Recently, the company launched a new subscription coffee club experience to compete with the likes of multibillion-dollar corporations.

“Living in Nicaragua, we were getting around by motorcycle,” Angela Oehlerking said. “If you leave every town, there’s a sign that says ‘Buen viaje,’ which means ‘have a good trip.’ As you consume coffee, it takes you to a different state of mind. You start in one place and you end up some place different. And we want that experience to be a good experience as well.”

The Oehlerkings now live in Colorado and their organization works with women and smallholders exclusively who get paid above fair trade price based on quality, not commodity. Good Trip Coffee also contributes 1% of all its sales to the Nuevo Amanecer Women’s Cooperative Scholarship Fund, a fund managed by its members to provide access to higher education.

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