Community Spotlight: Chris Owen of Madre Coffee Collective

This month Diana sits down with Enterprise Coworking member Chris Owen, founder of Madre Coffee Collective to share his amazing story of travelling to Guatemala which birthed the company. They go into how the coffee is sourced from famers from all over the world and how the recent pandemic has caused the company to pivot to a more consumer-based model. Enjoy!


[00:00:00] Diana: Hi, guys. Welcome to Enterprise Coworking Community Spotlight. This month, we're talking to Chris Owen with Madre Coffee Collective. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me and talk about your company. Hi, Chris. Let's. Why don't you introduce us to Madre Coffee Collective and what your role is in the company.

Chris: Thank you so much, Diana. Well, my name's Chris Owen I'm the founder slash head broom sweeper of madre coffee collective, roast The coffee traveled the world to source it, try and bring it back to the United States and deliver people delicious, sustainably sourced coffee. And it's a lot of fun. It's a project that I've had for about a year now. It began as I had a job where I used to cover seven states and I traveled just about every week and coffee shops were a little bit of a safe haven for me. You know, I get to know the baristas and when I come back, I kind of set up shop and your work done. And, you know, I just always had this passion for coffee as a conversation like Diana. If I asked you, hey, you want to grab coffee, I'm really asking you to connect. Right. Like, it's a medium for us to connect. And so that's wherein a lot of my passion lies. And so then I started traveling last summer and I ended up in Guatemala with a good buddy of mine, Mark Harrington. And we just like like a military drop, just like we've drug in Guatemala. We start asking questions. And we ended up meeting some suppliers. We ended up like finding a black sand beach. And we found this amazing coffee through our hostel owner. And he set up a meeting with him. I rented an ATV and drove it 30 minutes accross Guatemala. That's how sort of our sourcing began. So it's just been a really cool adventure to try and connect people with a good that, you know, it's easy to just buy off the shelf and never think about twice. Trying to tell the stories of our partnership.

[00:01:51] Diana: That sounds like an incredible adventure and i look forward to hearing that in a book you write.

Chris: You know, I need a new editor, but I'm down.

Diana: How did you come to find Enterprise Coworking?

Chris: Yeah, so I was. I love RiNo. First and foremost, and so I just the energy there, even the mural behind you, I think speaks to the energy of right now. And so I was at Crema, which is one of my favorite coffee shops in all of Colorado. Amazing. And then that team, they really take a lot of pride in what they offer. And I was in there and I saw a friend who came and said hi and I was catching up, her name's Whitney. And then she goes, oh, my gosh, Kevin's right here. He's with one million cups. Have you ever heard of one million cups? I said no I havent. So she introduces me to Kevin Buker  and Kevin and I've got to wrap it. And he invited me to come join one million cups. And so I came and it's was really cool group of people that have startups, they share ideas, they support each other. It's great presentations. And that is held at Enterprise Coworking. And so after being in the building, I decided to work there that day and got to work with, you know, just kind of the energy that was there. Set up shop. And I just love it. It's it's a really great place to be surrounded by other people that are doing similar things, which is either working remotely or trying to build something or looking to lean forward into like a community, you know, versus just hoping the things come to you from your home in the sky, like really being out and about. And it's been great. Really loved it. I can't wait to get back. I miss everybody.

[00:03:34] Diana: Yeah. Have you been to the virtual meet ups?

Chris: The One million cups? I have, yeah. I've been to a couple of them and you know, it's like everything. It's just interesting trying to navigate like what that big room of communication looks like when you're offering feedback. But it's growing consistently. I think also getting presenter's. That's something they're navigating right now because people are some people putting their businesses on hold. Others are trying to creatively grow.

[00:04:01] Diana: But now there's they're still doing their thing and and trying to provide a platform for entrepreneurs. And, you know, it feels like steering wheel being together and hearing those in person.

Chris: I think so, too. And I can't wait to have one million comes back here. They meet here every Wednesday morning for one hour. It's a great networking opportunity.

Diana: How is your team affected by the COVID 19 virus and what has your team put in place to weather the storm so far?

[00:04:31] Chris: Yeah so we were supply, you know, my first gig, I was on a plane to London. I met a guy named Jason and he was reading Happiness Hypothesis to go back to a conversation about books. Wonderful book about the science and just sort of culture of happiness and across the world and time. And we started rapping about the book because I just finished. And then we start talking about fasting and podcasts. And I was like, is this guy trying to front or is he like, really this guy? You know, you never got a point. And I was like, what if he is if he is this guy?

[00:05:03] Chris: And sure enough, he goes, you know, you have this coffee dream. I have an office with 50 people when you get back to the states because we're going to London. Why don't you call me and we'll put your coffee in the building. We'll see what happens. OK. So my first gig was like a pop up at his office and I like roll in my cannisters. I'm making lates. You know, I do that and end up doing that again for another friend in the tech center. And I realized, like, I dont like the pop up model. And then I had another friend asked me to supply their office. She goes, hey, we have 50 people, but we like your coffee more than ours. Would you be interested in supplying us? So that's when the office supply model was born. And that is really probably about 70 percent of our business up to COVID was this office supply and obviously no one visits the office anymore so that took a huge hit. And so we had to really pivot to a much more of a consumer strategy at that point because like, you know, 70 percent of the contracts that we have are still on hold because, you know, capacity is 10 percent or people are working remote, et cetera. So the consumer strategy was something that we kind of leaned into. We formed a coffee club where people could still travel the world, experience different copies of the world every month in a coffee club. And that was cool for a consumer that's looking to gain education as well as a sensory experience and try Madre coffee. So so that was a really big development for us. we created a coffee quiz to try and match people and create a marketing campaign around like Swipe Right for your perfect match of coffee. This fun, like, basically quiz that takes your tastes, takes how you make your coffee, how much coffee you drink and tries to match you with what we believe will fit your taste profile. So that. And then lastly, education. We've leaned into the education. So we've got a couple of videos on the website about, you know, there's an example of this. The coffee tasters wheel from the Specialty Coffee Association. People can take a look at that and see how the world classifies coffee flavors or how to make your own cold brew at home. Watch a video on that or how to make your own pour over at home video on that. So leading into the education of the consumer model, still touching base with our suppliers, we had a conversation with Pinwheel Coffee, who carries us over in the Highlands, really cool nonprofit with a school in the mix of their coffee shop, awesome place. And they're they're getting their curbside up and going. There's maybe some opportunity around additional patio seating per the governor's recent order. So, you know, there's some potential to maybe see demand go up for those guys. And, yeah, just trying to trying to still support our suppliers and our retailers and then making sure that we have the consumer in mind as well.

[00:07:55] Diana: Thank you so much for sharing that. Sounds like you guys are really coming up with amazing creative strategies to keep yourself strong and in the game. What are some exciting projects you're working on and what are you excited about for the future? For Madre Coffee Collective.

Chris: Yes, we had a meeting yesterday with a with the breakroom supplier called Blue Tiger, and they do snacks and beverage service and machinery. And so one of the things that you run into as you grow a coffee supply business is people are sometimes accustomed to having machines like I get that beautiful touch screen in the hotel and your going to give it to me. Right.

[00:08:33] So, you know, we were looking for a partner to to try and help us on the supply side. That would be machine expert and maintenance tech, because that's just how we're going to find the best coffee in the world for you, souce it and bring it to you and roast it to perfection is the goal. And so the machinery part of it and the snacks and beverages, that's just not part of the model. So having a meeting with them and now starting to distribute through them is super exciting, kind of finding those partners that handle the logistics. While, we continue to find coffee. You know, we've got a couple of our coworking spaces that we support opening up. So we're excited to see people just gather. And there's a couple of breweries up by where I live in Tenyson that are currently sampling some coffees for the next round of our coffee beer series. So we always do. But every quarter, a little coffee beer release party, happy hour. We just invite the community out and get to showcase the story of a local brewery. Have a fine coffee, beer, and then just have a blast. So, yeah, so super excited to kind of see, you know, which coffee the breweries go with and then watch the happy hour. My heart is hoping July Fourth is sort of an OK date where people maybe are starting to feel comfortable about stepping outside. Hopefully sooner. But I feel like that's a conservative estimate-ish. So we're kind of just trying to put some things on the map to where we can create some exciting increase in engagement. Tell the story of some of our local brewery partners and bring people together.

[00:10:11] Diana: That's awesome. Chris, what makes Madre Coffee Collective different from other organizations in your area?

Chris: Well, we really pride ourselves on this, like going and knowing our farmers. And so that's you know, there's there's five parts of our business how I look at it. You've got sourcing, which is a blast you're in Central America, Speaking Spanish a lot of times and getting to know these farms that are multigenerational. they work with, you know, cultures and tribes of of the coffee pickers, the fruit pickers, and just understanding what their washing process is like with their logistics look like. So that's that's a blast. And that to me, is like a key part of what we do is we're down there learning the stories and bringing coffee back. Artisan roasting. I think there's a lot of fantastic roasters in Denver across the world. We obviously understand that that's a massive part of creating the flavor and bringing out the notes. And the third thing I would say in terms of what makes us different, separate from the model is we are single origins. So we are giving you a farm or a regional coffee. We're not saying we've got a little bit of leftover, a little bit this leftover, let's just call it grand teton and go with it. I don't know if grand teton is a company, if there is I'm sorry, but the idea is we're trying to provide an experience whereby you can pick out the intricacies of flavor that come from different regions of the world. And so that, combined with telling farmer stories, I believe is a huge difference, because now you're starting to realize the Guatemalan coffee is volcanic grown. Therefore, there's a certain earthiness like a Malbec wine that comes through the flavor profile. Dark chocolate or Brazil. A little bit of a higher altitude in the region that we grow with. And some notes of like almond and coconut. So the idea is we're we're trying to share that there are certain regions, much like wine, I think is the easiest example where the soil produces distinctive flavors. Learn the stories of our farmers, Combine that with single origins and provide that to the consumer with the education.

[00:12:13] Diana: What else would you like our viewers to know about madre coffee?

Chris: Oh, yes. We are to me, you know, the idea of the word collective is let's just engage together and create it. You know, I think that, you know, as an entrepreneur, you're you're kind of looking to get the most bang for your buck in different ways. So you're to finish the business model and get sourcing, roasting, brand development in social media, which is, you know, that's a community based initiative. Then you've got, you know, sales and you've got to deliver in distribution. But the idea of the collective is let's all come together and share ideas or collaborate. I mean, most people drink coffee. Most people like to get up and go to work and have great days. How do we find a way to, like, support people as they go ahead and do that and give them the early bird, gets the worm. Or, you know, we even had an event with mythology, a distillery and other really great local business where we had a espresso martinis, and kind of had a fun event around it with them. So the idea is like we just love sharing the other stories of local businesses, collaborating with our business owners. You know, I have a little interview series as well where love to share your story and what makes you guys unique in the culture you built. So I would say we just we love to engage the community and kind of promote you guys as well. So love to hear your stories, too.

[00:13:36] Diana: I love that. Thank you so much. Thank you Chris for sitting down with me today and telling us a bit about my great coffee collective. We're so excited to have you part of our community at Enterprise Coworking. And we're hoping to see big things from you in the future. So for more information on madre coffee collective and Chris, you can go to his website. And that is...

Chris: Check it out, guys.

Diana: And be sure to say hi to Chris once you're in the space.