What It's About
A pedal roasted coffee bean side hustle in the Yukon!
Words of Wisdom
As much as Michael really appreciates this extra income, he also greatly appreciates the creative outlet and the satisfaction that he created something from nothing. The ability to work from home with the kids around, not only saves on daycare but means that he gets to teach the kids about the coffee business when they ask what he’s doing. He also really enjoys surprising people with really good coffee made with low-tech equipment.
Side hustles mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people—what would having a side hustle mean for you?
Michael never meant for the coffee roasting to be “pedal powered.” He tried hooking up a motor to the pizza oven set-up, but couldn’t get it to work quite right. When he happened upon the stationary bike, he realized he could power it himself and also commit to doing things fully by hand, or in this case, by foot.
Notes from Chris
What do you do when you’re a stay-at-home-dad? You start a side hustle, of course. Michael Russo first started roasting his own coffee in 2015 because it was impossible to find a fresh roast where he was living. He started really simply, by hand-spinning a half pound of green coffee beans in a metal bowl with a long metal rod, over a maple wood fire. The first batch burst into flames! But after a little trial and error and plenty of practice, he eventually got it down and could make each batch light, medium or dark roast. Since it’s a side hustle Michael has been clear about wanting to keep his costs low and processes as simple as possible. His main consumable costs are for the coffee itself, firewood, and bags (that he hand stamps with the logo). His website is run on Square and he accepts payments through his website, as well as cash, checks, and e-transfer. With this bootstrap approach over the last two years, Michael has gone from roasting one 150 pound sack of beans every two months to 1 sack every 15 days. At CAN$55 for three pounds, this has turned into a pretty lucrative side hustle for Michael and his family—actually making a full-time income from what started as a hobby.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Firebean Coffee Roasters: Learn more about Michael's pedal-powered coffee bean company on his website!
- Square: The company that Michael used to set up the purchasing process for his website
- StartUp Whitehorse: The organization that Michael reached out to that provides support and visibility to entrepreneurs
- Adäka Cultural Festival & Cold Climate Innovation: Two of the organizations that Michael formed private label partnerships with
- How to Roast Coffee at Home | The Art of Manliness: If you're interested in roasting your own coffee beans, here's a guide to help you get started
- Entrepreneur Reads Tea Leaves to Launch Subscription Hustle: A New York-based consultant brews his need for energy into a tea delivery service that offers customers a chance to discover new tea varieties each month
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