The State of 321: August Edition


My name is Lindsay, and I am a co-founder and the CEO of 321 Coffee. I’m glad you’re here. If you missed my previous post, I’ll be writing monthly blog posts about what we’re experiencing in growing 321 (successes, failures, highlights, and pains). I’ll use the same set of questions as a guideline for each month, so you can join my team in our journey. I hope to be completely transparent with you and share insights into this entrepreneurial process. It’s definitely a learning experience for all of us, but I’m loving it.

What have we been focused on?

We have been very focused on getting the roasting business ready to run. This involves getting the roaster installed and inspected, hiring and training staff, learning to roast ourselves, and establishing back-end operations for managing orders. The installation has taken longer than we anticipated — however, as of yesterday, it is completed! In the meantime, we’ve made great progress in the other areas. Next step: learn how to roast. I hope we are getting close to launching within the next month!

We’ve been working with a local designer to design the packaging for the new bags — they are looking beautiful, I can’t wait to show you all. Additionally, we ran a demo with our current beans to test out our ordering system, boxes, and shipping services. We hope to use feedback from the demo to confirm our operations once we open the service to everyone!

What am I most excited about?

I’m always excited about the “What’s Next?”. Michael (CFO) suggested that we as Directors all read, “The Founder’s Dilemmas”, a book about struggles that founders face when launching a company and how to set yourself up for success. I think this is such a great thing for us to do as a team, and I’m excited to discuss the thoughts and ideas that the book brings forth. We have a great team.

What am I most worried about?

I think the unknown is always hard. Within a startup, there are many many unknown variables. It’s unknown whether or not on Day 1 that we launch the subscription service, will we have 5 orders or 500. It’s unknown whether or not we will open a retail store in the near future because of the pandemic. I’m pretty good at improvising and figuring it out as I go, but it can be hard when there’s only so much you can plan for.

A moment that stands out?

When 321 Coffee originally opened, we aimed to have 1-1 support for the baristas through Community Volunteers (ex. NC State students). The Baristas would operate the shop and make the drinks, and the Community Volunteers were there for extra support. Over time, we didn’t need as many Community Volunteers as the baristas gained workplace independence, but we usually always had one or two.

When we reopened after COVID, our primary goal was to keep everyone safe — staff and customers. On the staff side, this involved limiting the number of people in the space as much as possible. We operated with a reduced staffing model and didn’t bring back Community Volunteers.

The other day, I was managing 321 and a customer came who wanted to talk with me about my involvement. I was chatting with him, and I kept monitoring the shop to make sure the baristas were set. Sure enough, they were thriving. They were expediting the ticket orders, helping each other clean, and remembering to thank every customer that came by. It was amazing. I was so proud watching them work independently and as a team.

I think 321 Coffee is important because it demonstrates what people are capable of when they have the opportunity. On that day, the baristas had an opportunity to work completely independently, and they excelled.

Thank you for reading this through. Now, I’d love to hear from you. Please, share with me your favorite moment of 321, the favorite thing you’ve seen in a blog post / on social media, or a question about something you’d like to know more about. Please get in touch with me at Lwrege@321Coffee.com.