For a long time, Nancy Alvarez and Shannon Smith thought of coffee as nothing more than a burned liquid into which they poured sugar for a quick pick-me-up at work.
When Alvarez and Smith began investigating the culture and history of coffee, everything changed. Their burgeoning curiosity rapidly turned into a pastime. They began going to coffee cafes to try different roasts and brewing methods.
Coffee is now their main source of income.
In July 2020, Alvarez, 31, and Smith, 29, made a major step by opening their own coffee shop, Monster Coffee Roasters, which they named after all the individuals they see in the morning who act like zombies before their first cup of coffee.
Even though the field in Los Angeles is crowded with competition from other local wholesalers and retailers, such as Sailor’s Brew Coffee in Pasadena, Café Demitasse in Santa Monica, and downtown-based Cognoscenti Coffee Roasters, Alvarez and Smith believe they can carve out a niche for themselves in the speciality coffee roaster market.
Smith stated, “Our aim is to provide fresh and sophisticated coffee to every kitchen while increasing exposure for women of colour in the coffee industry.” “We’ve made a concerted effort to lean in, and we need to do it much more now that we’re both women of colour and LGBTQ+.”
Monster Coffee sells 12 distinct coffee bean blends, some of which are named after monsters such as the yeti and werewolf, and which change with the seasons. The beans are available in 12- and 16-ounce bags for $15.95, as well as mini-packs of four 2-ounce bags for $20. Monster Coffee made $20,000 in its first year and is gaining popularity.
Alvarez and Smith started the company with their own money and manage it while working full-time jobs. Smith works in marketing, whereas Alvarez works in health care.
Temecula Coffee Roasters, another small coffee firm, agreed to let the duo use its grinding and roasting machinery. Monster does not yet have its own machines, but it wants to do so soon. Monster Coffee gets its beans from all over the world, including Brazil, Honduras, Peru, and Ethiopia, and the majority of its goods are offered online. However, now that the epidemic has passed, the new firm has begun organising pop-ups in a Long Beach shop.
Although the facility is shared with a vegan bakery next door, Alvarez and Smith hope to create their own physical site in the future.
Another major objective is to provide representation for women of colour in an industry that has traditionally been controlled by white males.
Coffee beans are mostly cultivated by people of colour in nations near the equator, according to Alvarez, who grew up in El Salvador. However, she found it difficult to discover much variety among coffee shop owners in Los Angeles, she added.
“As we visited all of these coffee shops, we saw that none of the owners, and sometimes even the staff, reflected what coffee manufacturing truly looked like,” she added.