Bryan Hibbard with Fort Bend Coffee Roasters has been in business for 5 years and wants to share his passion as a local coffee roaster and deliver the best cup of coffee in Fort Bend!
How did you get started as a coffee roaster?
We started our business, very simply, because we could not find a good cup of coffee in our area. I had been roasting coffee as a hobby for a few years (started out on an air popcorn popper). So we started roasting in our garage and selling our coffee on a hot July Saturday at a local farmers market (Farmers Market at Imperial). This was only ever meant to be a gig to make some side money. But, the response was overwhelming. People loved our coffee and we found there were quite a few others who were excited to find a great cup of coffee in Fort Bend County.
After a year of markets, we opened a commercial coffee roastery and started selling to coffee shops and restaurants throughout Fort Bend County. We got a few early breaks with established shops that were willing to take a chance with a new roaster. We are still amazed to have gotten as far as we have. We have focused on slow and steady growth over the past 5 years and we are now roasting 350 lbs per week for our various wholesale and retail accounts. We are now poised to take our next big step, moving our roastery to a retail space and offering cups of coffee and tea. Our roastery and coffee bar will be our chance to showcase our coffee as well as serve our local community. The shop will be located on the corner of Mason and Hwy 99 in the newer part of Richmond and should open late Spring or early Summer 2018.
What are some of the obstacles/challenges you’ve faced?
I feel like we have had a pretty smooth road, thanks to some savvy business sense, and a ton of luck. It has been a struggle to break into the coffee scene in Fort Bend County, first because there weren’t hardly any independent coffee shops, and then because we are just one of many options for Houston-area roasters. One of the biggest obstacles for me personally was believing that my coffee was good enough. I am still to this day genuinely surprised when someone in the coffee world likes my roasting style.
Tell us about Fort Bend Coffee Roasters
As our name implies we want to be “the” coffee roaster of record for Fort Bend County. Our focus is on bringing fresh coffee to people in Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Fulshear, Katy, and beyond. There are a lot of awesome roasters inside the loop (I know many of them personally) but the coffee choices in our area have often been Starbucks or nothing. We roast by hand in small batches and we deliver to or coffee shop and restaurant partners within 24 hrs of roasting. Coffee is at its best for the first 2 weeks after roasting. We want everyone to enjoy truly fresh coffee, something that is hard to get elsewhere.
What are some key elements or qualities that make you different?
We try to maintain a sense of humility in everything we do. In my previous job (editing academic journals) my boss often had to remind us neurotic editors that “no one is dying on the table.” We take a similar approach constantly reminding ourselves that “it’s just coffee.” We love coffee, and we are champions for better coffee, but at the end of the day, people are far more important. And coffee is just our means for serving those people, our neighbors in Fort Bend County.
We have also intentionally remained small and carefully considered each new partnership. My wife and I have been able to run the entire business up to this point. We will be hiring some employees when we open the new roastery and coffee bar, but we will continue to focus on remaining small and nimble.
Tell us about your customers
Our ideal customer is someone who loves good coffee, but doesn’t know much about it. Beyond the actual selling of roasted coffee, our biggest focus is on educating our customers. We want everyone to know that with the right equipment and some basic knowledge they can produce a cup of coffee at home that is every bit as good as their favorite coffee shop. A major focus of large coffee retails has been convincing the general public that (1) there is no difference between cheap commodity coffee and high-end specialty coffee, and (2) that you will never be able to produce as good a cup of coffee as a barista. Neither of these are true. We want to empower people to make good buying decisions when it comes to coffee and brewing equipment. Our “marketing plan” consists of coffee education classes that we offer throughout Fort Bend County at area libraries and community centers.
What do you see in the future for Fort Bend Coffee Roasters?
Next year, we darn well better have a coffee shop open! Long term, my goal is to build the company to the point where we can start giving profits back to the coffee growing regions that produce the amazing coffee that we love. We already support them by paying a high premium for their lots, but there is more we can do to help people throughout the coffee growing world. We don’t have a grand vision, but this would likely look like choosing a community to partner with, buying their coffee and then sharing the profits with the community.
Connect with Bryan
Fort Bend Coffee Roasters
8182 W. Grand Parkway S., Suite 200
Richmond, TX 77406