We met Cultivar Coffee founder Jonathan Meadows a couple months ago. A friend recommended we reach out to the coffee guru about our restaurant concept we hope to open in our second building on our property by early next year.
We quickly learned about his budding company, business principals and deep love for mentoring others about all things java and small biz. We were hooked by his story — it starts as a manager of an inflatable bounce house franchise — and had to have him on our podcast to share it with you.
So talk to us about how you go from being a barista to a founder of a coffee-roasting and restaurant concept.
So I realized, really just a few months into working at a coffee shop, that owning a coffee shop one day would be a really cool thing. I knew that I had a mind for business, I understood management and I realized that a lot of these management principles that I had learned, even at an inflatable bounce house place, could be applied to working at a coffee shop.
What gave you the nudge to take the leap?
If you work some place long enough, you start to see oh, well if I did this on my own, if I had my own thing, this is how I would do it differently. This is how I would improve on it or just maybe make it my own, it’s not always about who’s better or my way being better than your way, but just kind of like carving your own path.
After you started Cultivar, when did things pick up and how did that happen?
Things didn’t really pick up for us. We actually thought after the first year, we thought we were going to shut it down because it was not going well. We were still only selling coffee to our moms. Basically things didn’t pick up until we were giving the opportunity to open up our first coffee shop location.
What’s one of the biggest things you’ve learned so far?
It’s definitely been an evolution. I think that it’s important to listen to your customers. You have an idea of what you think is going to be good and I think naturally what you create is kind of an extension of yourself. So to a large extent, when people come to Cultivar Coffee, the coffee that they’re drinking is kind of like how I, Jonathan Meadows, love coffee. But I’ve learned to give the customers what they want. That’s changed a lot since when we started and I didn’t want a condiment bar or vanilla lattes.
What would you tell your 19-year old self today?
You will make mistakes and that’s okay. So there are certainly a lot of mistakes that I’ve made and a lot of advice that I would give 19-year-old me. It might sound a little bit mundane, but I would say make sure that you put everything that you do in business in writing with people.
What’s the most fun part of your job?
I serve as the company’s green coffee buyer so I get to travel and visit the coffee farms that we buy coffee from, mostly in Central America. That is a ton of fun for me to just have those relationships and connections, but also the traveling side and having new cultural experiences.
What is your go-to coffee order?
A shot of espresso accompanied by another shot of espresso.
What would be your last meal on earth?
I love Taco Bueno. Get me a bean burrito and I’ll be happy.
Dream coffee guest:
Who’s been the biggest celeb or person of note to walk through Cultivar’s doors?
If you could get your coffee in any location, distribution wise, where would you love to see it lining the shelves?
You guys sell coffee yet?
What are you currently listening to?
TV on the Radio
Last movie you saw?
Don’t miss his entire podcast. It’s so good! And for other Fridays with Flea Style episodes from this season, visit fleastyle.com/podcast-season-three/.
Images courtesy of Cultivar Coffee, unsplash.com and @cultivarcoffee via Instagram.