This week on Positively West Virginia, Jonathan Gladysz talked about how he started Bridgeport’s only specialty coffee cafe without any business experience or background.
“We put passion into our product. We’re not just doing it for money; we’re not doing it to build a business. We’re doing it because it’s something that we truly love.” Jonathan said.
Growing up in Lost Creek, WV, Jonathan didn’t always have the love for coffee that he holds today. It wasn’t until he went to college that he was shown the magic of high-quality coffee from a roommate. They would study together regularly in coffee shops, and over time, he became obsessed with the craft.
After college, Jonathan moved back to West Virginia, where he and a friend would try out new coffees and dabble in roasting. They would stand there and dream of a business they might someday own. Until one day, they decided it was time to stop dreaming.
Today their idea stands as a café in Bridgeport, WV, named Koin Coffee. They roast their own beans that they acquire from distributors all over the world. Their staff is small, only about three people, but together they have developed a unique identity to the area.
Jonathan and his business partner Ryan wanted to open Koin Coffee to show people that coffee isn’t just something that you chug in the morning on your way to work. Koin Coffee’s mission is to show people that coffee is something special, and it should be experienced and enjoyed rather than rushed.
Jonathan admits that Ryan is more the face of the company, and he is more of the logistics man. His favorite thing to do for the business is to sample and buy new coffees to roast and to sell in their shop or to other buyers across the nation.
The biggest challenge for Koin Coffee has been the niche market they serve in such a small area. Jonathan and Ryan know they are producing a fantastic product, but it can be hard to market a more expensive specialized cup of coffee when there’s such an abundance of bargain coffee all around. Bridgeport is small, but with the help of their website and relationship building, Koin Coffee ships everywhere and continues to grow despite the size of their brick and mortar location.
In the future, the team at Koin Coffee hopes to continue building relationships with other like-minded people. Jonathan said, “We want to have relationships with other coffee people in WV.” They are currently collaborating with Stone Tower in Fairmont, WV, on a mixed bag of coffee that combines two different roasts from each company. Jonathan says these relationships continue to grow and help each end by sharing ideas and advice.
Jonathan suggests that if you want to start a business like this one, you just need passion, community and common sense. It’s essential to keep your business profitable while doing what you love, even if that means keeping an idea on the side for a while. Never stop learning because as long as you love what you do and believe in what you make, your business will show it.
Listen to Jonathan’s whole podcast here: https://positivelywv.com/podcast/episode-155-jonathan-gladysz-koin-coffee/
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PIECE OF ADVICE: “Don’t be an island. Have connections and relationships with other people in your field.”