In the Summer of 2013, I, Micah Svejda (above on left), left a job as General Manager of a local cafe to pursue a dream. The dream was to start a coffee company whose goal was simple: to roast great coffee and to help others brew and enjoy it. There are a lot of ways this could be done, but I chose to focus on about the simplest way possible: to start a tiny roasting company out of a tiny space and to focus all of my efforts on wholesale and online sales. Starting with limited resources, the company was just me in the beginning (no partners or employees). My wife Rachel would help out when possible at farmer’s markets and other events, doing packaging and deliveries and in countless other invaluable ways, but she had her own full-time gig going.
At that time, the goal for growth was also simple: to start out in our 486-square-foot production space on Vandalia Street, and to grow the brand slowly and steadily. This would allow me to start to flesh out the brand, establish good systems for growth, and to establish a really strong local base of wholesale customers. Then, once we outgrew this facility and hit those milestones, the plan was to move to a larger space for roasting and offices and to add a retail coffee bar.
Most of my professional experience over the last 15 years has been behind a coffee bar. I’ve spent a number of years in all aspects of retail coffee from corporate coffee chains to larger independent companies to small mom-and-pop shops. In more recent years, however, I had a couple of positions that enabled me to gain skill in roasting and green coffee buying. This was invaluable knowledge, and really spurred me to start Bootstrap first and foremost as a wholesale roasting company, and to add a retail component later on when the time was right. This seemed like a really solid plan, so I quit my job, plunged right in and set to work trying to achieve this!
In May 2014, it all came together, and I started connecting with coffee shops, cafes and other businesses who would support our vision of quality (seasonal, delicious, responsibly-sourced coffees). I pounded the pavement and got the word out during the week. Rachel and I (and some friends) would brew at farmer’s markets and other events on the weekends. I don’t think I took a day off until late 2015 (except for a week or so when my son was born — oh yeah, did I mention that we had a baby, too?).
Slowly, the company grew (and our family, too), and we started to gain a loyal following. In late 2015, I hired a part-time employee, who then turned full-time in 2016. Then I added another, then another. I've been so fortunate to have brought on board some incredibly talented and awesome coffee professionals! (They run the day-to-day operations and keep things running smoothly.) We upgraded from our 6-pound machine to our 25-pound machine. We added a little office by leasing the space next to us, but this year we’ve really started to feel the limits of our little space.
I had been scoping out a number of places over the last couple of years that could serve as the next home for Bootstrap. None of them felt quite right — too small, too big, not in a great location. I knew we needed a space for us to spread out and to grow into, as well as a space to welcome people into and to really showcase our coffees and our brand. I stumbled across a building on the West Side of Saint Paul that, miraculously, really fit the bill.
I decided to move ahead with this, and I am excited to announce that we are moving into this building! Construction is beginning this week, and we hope to be roasting in the space by January and have the coffee bar open by February (fingers crossed)!
It is a HUGE, HUGE move for us, and this will allow us room to finally host our community properly. We plan to expand our educational program for both wholesale customers as well as for anyone who simply wants to learn more about coffee. We have courses planned such as Seed To Cup, Basics of Espresso and Basics of Brewing. We will add these courses one-by-one and slowly over the next year or so. We also plan on offering tours. The goal is to really connect people with where their coffee comes from!
We are acquiring a beautiful new 20 kilo roaster from Mill City Roasters. This will allow us to roast quite a bit more than we currently have capacity to do. We will finally have plenty of space for cupping, green storage and shipping/receiving. We're going to spruce things up, of course, but here is what will become the main roasting area:
Of course, the biggest change for us is the addition of our retail coffee bar. We are planning on offering a very coffee-focused menu. For espresso, we’re planning on just focusing on the classics (with a few syrups). We’re not doing any manual brews, but instead are focusing on a really-well executed drip brew program--3 or 4 coffees at a time (including flights of coffee). We will, of course, have our full menu of our coffee bags to take home, some teas, iced teas, cold brew, home brewing equipment and Bootstrap merch. We will offer some pastries, but keep it very simple and not really any other food. The coffee bar is primarily a chance for us to host you and to showcase our coffees. Our main focus, as it has always been, will remain roasting great coffee and helping others to brew and enjoy it well. Here's a photo of what will become our coffee bar seating area. The window will be replaced, but as you can see it will let in a ton of natural light:
The new building is at 432 Wabasha Street, Saint Paul, MN 55107. Sign up for our email list and pay attention to social media for all the latest updates. We can’t wait to welcome you all to our new home on the West Side! Here are some more photos of the outside (there is also a beautiful side yard that you can catch a glimpse of in a couple of these photos):
We are super excited about becoming part of the West Side! There are a ton of great businesses in this area. This is a great neighborhood, and the community has been super welcoming. We're excited to get to know all of our new neighbors. We hope to be both a destination spot for great coffee and a neighborhood gathering place!
We can't even begin to express how much we appreciate all the love and support for this dream that you all, our community, have provided over the last four years. You all have literally made this all possible by continuing to support our take on delicious, seasonal coffees. We cannot begin to thank you enough! We are so, so excited to welcome you all into our new space soon!
Much love and many thanks,
The Bootstrap Coffee Roasters Team