We've held onto this interview with Key City Coffee since before Christmas break! And we are finally getting to publish our interview with one of Abilene's newest entrepreneurs in the coffee bean business! We are sure you are familiar with their beautiful brand by now. They have done an incredible job connecting with our community and continue to network with supportive local businesses in our area! Getting to spend time with husband and wife owners, Daniel and Emily Parker, was an honor and a treat! We are excited to finally get to share a little bit of their story with you! And let me tell you, not only was their coffee spectacular, the brunch and warm hospitality was to die for! Enjoy the following interview written and conducted by freelance writer and friend Casey Hatcher. Details have been updated since the initial interview.
Photos by Projects With Jen
How did you get into the coffee bean business? Why coffee beans?
Like most college kids, we both became very dependent on coffee during our studies. Daniel studied Industrial Engineering, and I studied international studies, world religions, and journalism. We needed it! We have always been big coffee enthusiasts. When we were in college, Daniel’s mentor Nathan Boe, taught Daniel how to roast coffee beans on a whirly pop popcorn maker. When we came to Abilene, we started roasting on our whirly pop and sold a little bit to our friends in town. Suddenly the demand grew and as we got better roasting we realized this hobby and passion could turn into something a little more lucrative. Now we roast on a commercial roaster and can roast over a hundred pounds a day. "Good coffee in the hands of the people" has become our mantra. It's been so great to get to do what we love and be so well received!
Photos by Projects With Jen
What brought you to Abilene and how long have you lived here?
We came to Abilene in June of 2014 because of the Air Force. We graduated from Texas A&M in 2014, and Daniel commissioned as an Air Force Officer and which became our first duty station. Being Native Texans, we love the small town feel and locally driven atmosphere Abilene offers. Now Abilene is our home and we plan to stay here for a while.
I understand that fair trade is an important issue to you and that you passionate about helping the countries you get their beans from. Tell us about your passion, vision, and mission for your business.
In college, Emily majored in international studies. (Side note: every girl that Daniel dated in college was also an international studies major, and not very many people at A&M studied international studies, so it was quite the feat on his part; She currently works in town for the IRC (International Rescue Committee) as a caseworker. Getting to work daily with people from so many different countries is such a joy for her. God provided in a big way in bringing Emily to that job. Cultures and countries have always been a giant passion and interest for both of us. We are all about people and loving them well. Our importer, Cafe Imports, works closely with the farmers themselves and ensures that they are treated well and paid a fair wage. For us, it doesn't make sense to do business any other way. We have a giant opportunity here to be a small force for a greater good, and we're jumping on it. As we grow, we would love to get the opportunity to cut out the middle man and work directly with the farmers and plantations ourselves. But for now, we can rest assured that our importer does that for us.
Sack photos provided by Key City Coffee, product photography by Projects With Jen
What can we expect to see from you in 2016? What are the long term goals with Key City Coffee?
In 2016, KCC is going commercial! In 2015 we were operating as a cottage food business. Legally, we had a lot of restrictions on where and how we could sell our coffee. But we are excited to finally be commercial in 2016! You can expect to see us in some of your favorite local restaurants and grocers. We also are planning on holding several coffee education events in town. Education (without being arrogant or presumptuous) is a huge passion of ours. Now that good coffee is in the hands of the people, we want to teach them how to extract the most flavor (and enjoyment) out of it. We want to emphasize, that we desire nothing more than to be a local small business. Our drive in going commercial is solely to make our coffee more readily available to Abilene and its people. As far as long term goals, we're not looking to reinvent the wheel. There are already plenty of coffee shops and restaurants in town that can serve tasty coffee drinks, and that's a great thing and something we want to stand behind and support. We want to see Abilene grow into a place where good coffee is known and understood. We want good coffee to be the norm here and readily available to any and all who drink it.
Photos provided by Key City Coffee
Tell us more about the coffee itself. How can folks buy from you?
We sell single origin whole bean coffee. That means that we never sell "blends." All of our beans come from the same region, and most times the same small farm or plantation. We don't flavor our coffee. There are so many fantastic flavors and nuances in regional coffees that are to be experienced and not masked by chemicals or flavorings. You can contact via Facebook or Instagram for orders or order through our email form on KCC’s website. However, now that we're commercial, we are be able to ship our coffee directly to the people as well as sell at local coffee shops, restaurants, and grocers. We are excited to say you can now purchase our coffee at Abi-Haus located at 959 N 2nd St, Abilene, TX in Downtown Abilene and Beltway Coffee Co. located at 2850 State Highway 351, Abilene, TX. We are excited to have relationship and support from local business like these guys! We're also working on collaborating with Beltway Coffee Co. to offer coffee brewing workshops on the science of brewing for high quality flavor!
Photo by Projects With Jen
We love the branding! Tell us about the branding and packaging process!
We love our branding too! One of our good friends and best local talents, Kirsten Ashley Wollschlager, did our branding for us. You should totally follow Kirsten on Facebook and Instagram @kristenashleyphotography! She's amazing! She helped us identify our target market and communicate our vision well. All of our bags are hand stamped with our logo. Our stamps came from Stephen's Stamps on Butternut, we love working with them! We both really love history and antiques. We believe that the past is to be treasured and learned from, but not dwelt in. You'll notice we combine a lot of more retro and antique looking styles with clean lines and more modern styles. We do this intentionally.
You guys were vendors at the Palm House Bake Sale promoted by A People Party Productions at the Fall 2015 People Party Craft Fair. How did your business do at this event? What did participating in this event do for your business?
The APPP craft fair was our big grand opening in Abilene, and it was more than we ever could have dreamed! We had so much success there. We felt so loved and well received by the people of Abilene. Our success there gave us the push (both financially and emotionally) that we needed to expand and go commercial.
How has networking with APPP helped your business?
It's so great to see APPP so genuinely want to see others succeed. Jen has been nothing but supportive and encouraging. For that we are so grateful.
Any last thoughts you'd like to share?
We really want to clearly communicate that we love the city of Abilene and are committed to being a local business and giving back to this city. We aren't planning on leaving anytime soon and we're in for the long haul!