It was September, 2011. The idea for a coffee liqueur had come a few months before, but it was September 2011 that I started tinkering seriously. Well, more like obsessively. Moving from my personal kitchen to a commercial kitchen in Strictly Coffee on Bath St meant I could get high proof ethanol and actually test what I was hoping to make into a commercial product.
I’d use the kitchen after hours. It meant loading all my equipment into the car and unloading it at 4pm, staying there till I was done for the night, then coming back on Saturday mornings to finish off. As I got bigger, I just had to get better at tetris-ing all my stuff into the car. After a few months it was like a solid block.
That wasn’t the hardest time for me. At that time there was no expectation; it was just fun, tinkering. The funny thing is that, I actually had everything ready – the legalities, labels, bottles and market in mind but I just didn’t have a recipe. And without a recipe I had nothing. I hadn’t banked much money into it, a few hundred dollars maybe and only about 6 months of obsessive tinkering.
It wasn’t a eureka moment when I got it. I remember getting the recipe but keeping on testing, then having to backtrack back to the final recipe. The first commercial batch was around 24x bottles. It was late December 2011.
People think business is risky. I think it’s riskier to never try.
I was lucky enough to find something I could wade into without really needing a large upfront investment. Either lucky or smart.
I am also lucky that the moments of starting up were captured on film by a student filmmaker at the time, Kamani Suppiah. Kamani studied a Masters of Science Communication and she caught my story, working through the difficulties of coffee, and wanted it to be part of her 25 minute final presentation. It turned out to be the whole of her final presentation. The film she made is called A Shot of Inspiration. It’s 25 minutes long and is while there was some editing to the story to make it fit neatly, it’s probably 80% accurate. The footage is mostly real.
Here’s Kamani’s 2012 student film: A Shot of Inspiration. It is the story of Quick Brown Fox.