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Driven: a Passion for Coffee (part 1)

By Whollykao @whollyKao

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 1)

Some people really love coffee. They know the names and origins of each bean. Much like wine aficionados, these folks can tell you the tasting notes for each cup of joe they drink. They know the pros and cons of using a french press vs a Clever press. They attend coffee conventions and learn how to make latte art.

My brother in law and sister and law are just like that. Daniel and Amyie are passionate about coffee. They recently launched Mariposa, a coffee roastery in their home town of Norman, Oklahoma.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 1)

Daniel is the official roaster; Amyie takes care of many of the other aspects of the business. The dream is to open a coffee shop in Norman.
Driven: a passion for coffee (part 1)

This post is all about Daniel’s experience with starting Mariposa. I’ll be posting my interview with Amyie tomorrow!

How’d you get into coffee?
I started off drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee, then gradually moved to Starbucks. Jeff actually introduced me to home-roasted coffee and Peet’s. And then I read Howard Schultz’s book, Pour Your Heart Into It, which encouraged my love for coffee. All very ironic, right? Especially since Starbucks is not even really considered specialty coffee among coffee professionals.

What has the process been like, to get to where you are today with Mariposa?
Grueling. If I knew upfront all the work needed to start this, I don’t know if I would have even started it in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I love where we are and what we’re doing, but starting a roastery has been tough. Even with 6-years roasting experience, all the material we’ve read and conferences we’ve attended, we’re still newbies in the coffee biz. We have a lot to learn.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 1)

What are your individual roles within the company?
I’m more tied into logistics and roasting. I ensure we have business and enough money, and set the long-term vision of the business goals. Amyie is tied into coordinating partnerships with social justice and sustainable initiatives. She has the creative insight on how to improve our branding – she makes the business goals fun to work on.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 1)

How often do you have to roast coffee?
We have a schedule set to roast twice a week for orders. In reality, it’s more like 3-4 times a week minimum. We’re always looking to improve our roasting, even if it’s a minor tweak. And we’re constantly receiving new samples to evaluate. So if I had more time, I’d roast every day.

What’re your favorite coffees?
My favorite: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, light roast.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 1)

What are the goals/plans for Mariposa in the future?
That’s a loaded question. In short, we hope to encourage people in other communities to use coffee as a way to gather people. We’d love to be a part in helping other roasters/coffee businesses get started in their communities: through financial assistance, education, training, and equipment support.
I love larger specialty roasters such as Stumptown, Blue Bottle, Handsome, Counter Culture, etc. But, the longer we are in the coffee business, the more I find myself drawn to keeping things at the local level. There’s a sense of intimate friendship you can’t replicate with a larger corporation. And instead of starting up a Mariposa in another state, I’d rather use my energy to help others in our community start their own coffee business.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 1)

The wonderful thing about Mariposa is that it’s not just about coffee. It’s also focused on giving back to social causes that Daniel and Amyie are passionate about. You’ll read more about that tomorrow from Amyie in part 2 of this post!

For anyone who’s interested, you can read more about Mariposa on their blog. And if you’d like to order coffee, hop over to their site.

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