Business Love Stories – Host Coffee
Host coffee are a fabulous independent coffee roastery based in stunning West Sussex, between the sandy beaches of the Wittering’s and the South Downs. This little business can start your day right with their hassle-free coffee delivery service, bringing the caffeinated (and delicious decaf) goodness straight to your door anywhere in the UK. But wait there’s more! When you choose a bag of ethically sourced coffee, Host donates a generous 1% of all sales to CharityWater.org, who bring clean water to those in need across the world, including people from the very countries where their coffee is grown. It’s like sipping on your morning cup of joe and being a superhero at the same time, now that’s what I call amazing.
Amidst the whirlwind of coffee roasting, grinding and deliveries, Becca, the magical multitasker of Host Coffee Roaster, generously takes time from her jam-packed day to share the enchanting tale of her business.
What made you set up on your own?
“I was working as an event stylist and I was offered an extended job with Adidas. I found, unexpectedly, I had the opportunity and financial means to follow my dream of running a small business. So, after purchasing a small, second-hand coffee roaster and commercial grinder from a bakery in Brighton I embarked on the infinite journey of mastering the craft of hand-roasting coffee beans.
I love coffee and its ‘everydayness.’ A good cup is a ritual and brings joy to people’s mornings, I see it as a privilege being part of someone’s morning cup at home, in the office or at your favorite café, its truly exhilarating.”
Can you remember the moment you decided?
“Starting up such a venture can be costly, and I personally preferred avoiding any form of borrowing, the idea of having the freedom to use my own funds resonated deeply with me, I have always been steadfast in my commitment to never borrow or accumulate debt. Doing the Adidas job and having the necessary funds at hand to start super small empowered me to purchase the equipment and transform my dream into a reality.”
How would you describe your relationship with your business right now?
“I feel lucky to work with coffee and I have a skip in my step and that passion makes all the difference. While there may be certain mundane tasks involved, such as weighing coffee and filling tubs and bags, I find the repetitive tasks soothing, providing me with valuable headspace. It allows me to ponder on problems, explore new ideas or indulge in inspiring podcasts that share incredible stories.
It is a delight to be part of the food community and I love that I know the bakers, brewers, and chocolatiers and that talking with them is part of my every day, and I get a real kick out of seeing people in the cafes enjoying a cup of HOST.”
When was it at its worst? What was happening for you then?
“One of the most challenging experiences I faced was having a large cafe whose business accounted for a significant portion of my revenue encounter their own financial difficulties, making it increasingly hard for them to pay me. I was lucky, I had friends who ran other small businesses, and they encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and approach the café directly, it was a new business language I had to learn. This situation was particularly tough and knocked my confidence as to whether there might have been a better way to handle it and why I hadn’t stepped in and sorted it all out before it became a problem.”
What advice would you give to another owner who’s feeling disillusioned?
“Firstly, I would say you are not alone. Most small businesses have been on that bumpy road of being disillusioned. But if you have a genuine passion for your product or service and derive true joy that will come across. Enthusiasm is contagious: your passions will shine through so instead of worrying alone talk with other small business and try to get out there and share that passion with your customers.
In my experience, the world of coffee is filled with delightful individuals, and it is a pleasure to exchange stories and experiences with them. Recently I had the exciting opportunity to collaborate with a local chocolate maker who have incorporated my coffee bean into their beautiful handmade chocolate bars, creating a truly indulgent experience, it’s the little things like this that bring me immense delight.”
What keeps you connected to why you started your business in the first place?
“Once again coffee remains at the heart of everything I do. My strap line “happy making coffee” serves as a guiding principle in all the decisions I make. In challenging times, it could be tempting to consider using different beans to reduce costs and increase profits. In every decision I make, I ask myself if it brings me happiness. If I cannot find the joy, I let it go. It is important to me to choose importers who work transparently ensuring the supply chains happiness. The farmers dedicate their entire lives to the cultivation of great coffee beans. It would not bring me happiness to disregard their hard work and not support them. I also prioritise sustainable practices by using reusable tubs for trade customers and recyclable bags for retails.”
Would you say you love your business?
“Since the start of my business I have worked with an extraordinary company Charity Water who bring clean water to countries where they don’t have this available. Water is so basic and so every day that it was a good fit for HOST - so much of good cup of coffee is the water. We pledge 1% of all sales to them and it’s great to hear what they are doing and how they support people across the world.
And I have launched two new products: Cold Brew ready to drink and Cold Brew concentrate - I have been drinking Cold Brew for a while and it was only when friends began asking to have some the penny dropped. Its great sharing ideas with customers”
Who or what keeps you going in tough times?
“Wonderfully supportive husband who gives feedback and helps me at the roastery on the weekends. And of course, it is so great getting positive feedback from a customer or a lovely review, cupping a new bean, meeting up with fellow roasters, getting nerdy about different flavours - so many things really.”
What do you love about working for yourself?
“I love the fact I am culpable, the feeling of responsibility that I can choose how to run my business. I make many mistakes and a few good decisions too which are infinitely more fun. I intimately know the products, marketing, and everything which goes on behind the scenes.”
How seasonal is our business?
“Coffee is every day for most people - not a special occasion treat so the business tends not to be seasonal. We do supply a few seasonal summer businesses, but mainly it is not season dependent. If you love coffee - you need it every day.”