When we moved back to Montana sixteen years ago from Kauai, HI, we could not have further removed ourselves from the coffee industry. The move from management at the largest coffee farm in the United States to an isolated mountain town on the edge of Yellowstone National Park took me away from the ability to remain closely connected with the industry that I worked in for ten years, up to that point. It quickly became apparent after moving back to Montana that not only was I out of the loop with the industry but also, the availability of high quality coffee was all but non existent. It was at this point in 2004 that my wife Laura and I decided to begin the process of using my coffee industry experience to start a coffee roasting business in West Yellowstone, MT. We opened our doors in 2005 and began the long journey of a small "Mom & Pop" startup.
There have been many changes to the coffee industry and our business along the way. The increase in roasters and green coffee brokers over the last ten years has brought new innovations and products, but it has also brought with it new fads, major outside investments and acquisitions, and sometimes questionable practices from the farm level on up. The challenge to find quality raw product and materials at fair and consistent and ethical prices has only gotten harder.
Operating a small coffee roasting business in one of the most isolated communities in the lower 48 states, far away from industry centers, trade shows and events is not without it's challenges but, there are times because of our location next to Yellowstone National Park when those from within the industry happen upon us while visiting. Over the years we have had visitors to our store from across the coffee world. Roasters and coffee brokers from across the country, executives and national sales associates from Starbucks have all visited our store. Innovators in coffee products, coffee farmers and organizations such as Cup of Excellence have all walked through our doors. Old friends from my national sales days as well new acquaintances and, those who I have met only via social media have all found there way to Yellowstone.
The most recent serendipitous meeting occurred this winter. Because of some economic and health challenges over the past few years, as well as a love for Yellowstone National Park, I chose to take a position guiding snowcoaches into the park. It has been an incredible experience sharing Yellowstone with people from around the world. I have had the opportunity to meet and guide a diverse group of people including a surprise meeting with yet another coffee industry professional that loves Yellowstone.
It was a cold, blustery and snowy morning when I loaded a photo tour onto my coach. As we began our day I introduced myself to the photo guide and told him a little about myself. After mentioning the coffee industry, he mentioned that one of the people on board was also in the coffee industry. At our first stop of the day, I approached the man, who looked more than familiar, only to find out that we knew each via social media.
During my time with Kauai Coffee Company I had the opportunity to attend and work at events put on by the National Coffee Association. Because of this past experience I have always followed and shared the associations content on various social media platforms, because the information they share is of value to my customers. A few years back when the NCA hired a new CEO, I immediately connected on Linkedin with him. I kept up with his blogging and continued to share NCA information. Little did he know his love of photography would land him randomly on my snowcoach in the middle of Yellowstone.
I had the pleasure of spending the day with William "Bill" Murray, CEO of the National Coffee Association chasing wildlife in a snow storm. The coffee industry once again came to visit me and, further reinforced the fact that the world is indeed a small place.
At Morning Glory, coffee is our product. Coffee is what we have to offer the world, but for me it is more than the product, it's the inspired people working to make the coffee industry better every day that keep me doing what I do. Even with the challenges ahead for the coffee industry and for our little business I am hopeful to continue along the path of creating great coffee. I hope to continue experiencing those random moments that keep me connected with the great big world of coffee just outside my little mountain town, on the edge of Yellowstone National Park.
For more information about everything coffee checkout the National Coffee Association at www.ncausa.org
For a great cup of coffee check us out at www.morningglorycoffee.net