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Driven: a Passion for Coffee (part 2)

By Whollykao @whollyKao

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 2)
Yesterday’s post featured an interview with a coffee connoisseur who just happens to be my brother-in-law. He’s the roaster behind Mariposa Coffee Roastery in Norman, Oklahoma. He and his wife, Amyie, have been working together to kickstart their business. Today’s post features my interview with Amyie.

The first time I met Amyie, I noticed how her eyes lit up when she started talking about social justice. Her passion for helping others is one of the reasons why Mariposa is so focused on giving to those in need.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 2)

How’d you get into coffee?
Honestly, I started drinking it because I had to stay up late to study. Then, during a trip to Seattle my freshman year of college, Peets/Starbucks enlightened me to the many flavors that coffees carry. That led me to prefer black coffee (with the occasional dessert drinks, too!). So when Daniel shared Jeff’s (home-roasted) cast iron skillet coffee with me, my taste buds were awakened. Once I realized the lengthy process that goes into preparing a single cup of coffee (from crop to cup), my perception of it was forever changed. I have so much respect for all the work that it took that I want to savor every last sip!

What has the process been like, to get to where you are today with Mariposa?
It’s been an adventure! We honestly had no intention of starting a a business – it was a way for us to raise funds and give to different causes. During college, I launched a few advocacy campaigns and would ask Daniel to roast coffee to help raise funds. It was through our giving and motivation to support various causes, that we were encouraged by business leaders to pursue a business (with the hope of someday being able to give more).
The details:
I developed a relationship with the owner of Joe’s addiction (a coffee shop in Oklahoma City) and told them about Daniel. They began to purchase the beans for him to roast and he roasted for them for a long while and as his roasting became more and more consistent, we were encourage to select a logo and create a business plan.
Starting a business was challenging on many levels but we decided to start off by giving away 15% of revenue. We wanted to give out of habit and integrate generosity into our core values. We also like building relationships and have found that this business have facilitated opportunities to gather.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 2)

What are your individual roles within the company?
We fused our passions, so I still carry the social justice torch and Daniel does the roasting, and handles the nitty gritty stuff. We’re both baristas and I’m also starting to roast. I also help with the design/photography.

What are your social justice initiatives for Mariposa?
We’ve given to many organizations and causes. Along with social justice we also care deeply about sustainability and supporting local arts. One of the more memorable events/causes we’ve supported in the past was for Haiti relief. Mariposa hosted a philanthropic art sale in the Paseo Arts district of OKC and raised funds for Partners In Health. Through that event, we were able to link arms with local artists, support them, all the while, generating capital for earthquake victims.

We boiled down our interests down to relationship building, development of water wells, supporting local art, and community building. We’re in the process of trying to narrow our objectives but stay balanced. For example, our concern for the environment led us to use biodegradable/compostable bags. We’re the only ones in Oklahoma that uses them right now.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 2)

At one point, you guys had to sell off your possessions in order to upgrade your roaster. What was that experience like?
Well, that incident helped us identify the “essence of our dream.”

For a long time coffee was a side hobby for Daniel, and an avenue for me to support social causes. When we decided to turn that idea into a business model, Mariposa was still a “hobby” from the financial perspective–all that to say, we had to prioritize what things really mattered to us (pouring resources into Mariposa became more challenging on our personal budget). So when it came time to upgrade our home roasting apparatus, Daniel chose to sell his treasured road bike (he’s been a biking enthusiast since high school).

It was a turning point in many regards for the business:
1) The new roaster enabled us to roast well and reliably.
2) It made me realize that social justice is something I care deeply about. But at what cost and to what end? If I can find ways to advocate and contribute to social causes, why would I need to sink into deeper debt to do it any other way?
3) The essence of our dream goes far beyond a physical coffee house. At the core of our business is our desire to inspire our community, raise awareness of social justice issues, and touch lives one cup at a time.

And finally, what are your favorite coffees?
I love the Ethiopia Sidama (medium roast) and the Kenya AA.

Driven: a passion for coffee (part 2)

Thanks to Daniel + Amyie for being a part of Driven. They’ve certainly been inspirational to me. I hope they’ve inspired you too!

Are you Driven? If you’re pursuing a passion and would like to be featured in a post, contact me.

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