9 min 36 sec

Coffee for Firefighters Brings the Heat!

Three childhood friends brew up a quirky, perky performance beverage for firefighters in search of a 48-hour jolt.
Food Marketing Retail

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What It's About

California firefighters rescue the morning by roasting coffee "strong enough to wake the dead."

Business Model
Skills Required
Research & Marketing
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

“The first step is to think about what you want to accomplish based on what you enjoy,” Lorenzo advises. “Once you start, you’ll figure it out. Go down the rabbit trail.”

Fun Fact

The lighter the roast, the more the caffeine.

“Because light roast coffee is roasted for less time, it’s denser and heavier than dark roast. As a result, each particle of ground light roast contains more caffeine than a particle of ground dark roast. When equal volumes are measured, the light roast will thus pack more caffeine.” - Cooks Illustrated

Notes from Chris

Episode 986
There’s work, and then there are the tools that actually make work, work. For firefighters, one thing that is absolutely essential is coffee. Not just any coffee, but coffee that will enhance alert, awake, non-jittery performance for 48 hours—basically, the length of a firefighter’s entire shift. Northern California firefighters Eli Held and Lorenzo Tiscareno parlayed that need for a long-lasting, high-caffeine jolt into a side hustle of roasting and delivering coffee to fire stations and coffee connoisseurs.

With the help of their childhood friend Doug Walker, director of sales at a local brewery, six-month-old Muertos Coffee is slowly brewing into a wicked small business combining profits, community service, and tattoo-inspired merch.

After getting his buddies Eli and Doug involved, they started roasting their own blends at Doug’s employer … the brewery. As for the name, Muertos means “dead” in Spanish, and since they sell “coffee to wake the dead,” they called their new side hustle Muertos Coffee Company. They added some detailed, sugar skull designs to their packaging inspired by the Mexican “Day of the Dead” holiday, and Muertos Coffee Company rose from the grave.

Each Muertos man kicked in $4,000 to start, and the company is now profitable in its sixth month of operation. They’re reinvesting those profits for now, and also working on extracting more potential from the Muertos merchandise.

But money isn’t the company’s only goal. The Muertos’ mission statement is an invitation to “take an active role in giving back.” That means promoting the firefighting profession through mentoring those would-be firefighters and donating a portion of coffee profits to firefighters injured in the line of duty and victims of fire.

The mentoring part includes asking fellow firefighters who order coffee to spend time talking to would-be firefighters delivering beans. Resume consultation, ride-alongs, networking, and interview training are all part of the services Muertos hopes to offer to the next generation of firefighters—and coffee drinkers.


  • Muertos Coffee Company: Ready to revive your coffee supply? Check out and order coffee from the Muerto's site.

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"You don’t learn from things you do well."
—Lorenzo Tiscareno #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau