Catherine Bieri is the co- owner of Three Fins Coffee Roasters a coffee shop that places their pride as a small batch specialty coffee roaster. They use an American-made Diedrich roaster, which is located right smack in the middle of their coffeehouse for all to see. This gives their customers not only a welcoming, warm aroma to walk into but also a visual that shows where the magic all stems from. Their mission you ask? Three Fins Strives to make a specialty cup of coffee affordable, and to help people understand how great coffee is actually made. In the beginning of her career, Catherine was a Director of Information Technology, where she spent more than a decade working with start-up companies. Creating this coffee haven was definitely a whole different ball park for her, but her prime passion for the art of caffeine was what drove her to want to create this experience. It wasn’t a surprise to us when we asked Catherine what her main focus was in the shop-and her response, was everything. From Barista to Cashier, to their Lead Sales Person, Marketing Extraordinaire, Social Media Specialist, Webmaster, HR Team- she wears every hat you could think of. Ironically enough, the only thing Catherine does not do (yet) is roast. She says she leaves that up to her partner in crime… but sure enough she’s learning to fit this hat as well! I asked Catherine some crucial questions on what sets her business apart from the rest, and she couldn’t help but vocalize what she feels is so important about their company that she wanted everyone else to know “We strive to be as green as possible. We offer boxed water versus plastic water bottles. We use compostable hot cups, and our cold cups are made of corn. We have to remind people to NOT leave their cold cups sitting in their hot car, as they will start to decompose within a matter of hours! We do not offer plastic knives, forks or spoons and encourage people to sit in the coffeehouse and drink from our porcelain. We are part of the “Skip the Straw” campaign to help reduce the use of plastic in our environment. We are trying to partner with other businesses to do bulk buying of paper straws (the minimum quantities are too expensive for us). Our current straws are compostable however, we encourage our customers to just skip it altogether, and we will provide one if asked. Currently, we are testing out a supplier that provides organic milk in glass bottles. If we can make this switch, we are pretty much plastic free! It is very important to us to be part of the solution to help protect our environment and reduce our waste in the landfills and the plastic in our oceans.”
Catherine, you recently responded to our CC entrepreneur post, what is your big picture for yourself for your entrepreneurial endeavors?
“I have some big shoes that I’d like to fill for our business endeavors. First, for our brand, is to create quality handcrafted coffee and educate people on the care that is taken by small batch coffee roasters. As a roaster, we are the last step of the seed to cup journey and we take care to ensure that all the previous hard work is honored. Second, is to create a great environment in which to experience our coffee. This is through our coffeehouse. We want people to come in, sit, gather, engage and sip. Third, is to expand our brand beyond Cape Cod via our wholesale outlet and educate our buyers on how to get the most out of our beans with their equipment. Lastly, is to provide a career path for our employees, which is related to the ability to expand our business. There are so many opportunities within this industry that someone can be enthused about.”
What kind of education and training did you have to undergo?
“Prior to this, I made pretty good coffee at home but honestly, the machine did most of the work. For three fins, I needed to truly understand the science behind good coffee, because we were going to do it right. So I took a few professional Barista courses to fully understand grind size, water ratio, timing etc. If you don’t have that understanding, you can have the best equipment and the best-roasted beans, but still end up with terrible coffee. We calibrate our espresso machines daily, and sometimes multiple times a day for the proper ratios.”
What initially motivated you to want to become a business owner?
“I’ve always wanted to have my own business ever since I can remember. After 8 years in my previous career for what is todays’ Verizon Wireless, I ventured out on my own as a sole proprietor, working 1 – 2 year contracts for Mobile start-ups at the Director and Executive level. I was helping these start-ups launch their products, implement their vision, and helping their shareholders obtain value for their investment. It was hard work with really long hours. It was also fun. I had the opportunity to live in many different countries. But deep down, I wanted to be working hard for something that I produced, and I kept asking myself why I wasn’t. It took time to get here, but here I am!”
Why are you so passionate about what you do?
“As crazy as it may sound, we actually provide a product that is difficult to find on Cape Cod, great coffee. And people who enjoy coffee want good coffee. I got into coffee because of my partner, but once we opened our doors and started receiving all of the positive comments from our customers, it became hard not to be passionate. Every day I work hard to improve our offering for all the people who are loyal to us and to our product. It is so rewarding to come into work and get such positive feedback.”
What do you see as your biggest challenge?
“Employee retention and creating a business that provides a career path. I don’t want a business that every season churns through entry-level employees. I want to offer longevity and growth for the business and its employees and we want to hire people who have a passion for coffee and the industry. There are numerous paths that someone can take if they are willing to put in the hard work, learn with us, and grow with us. It takes the right attitude to see beyond an hourly job, and the possibility of a career. And attitude is something that you cannot teach.”
What do you see as your biggest success?
“Having repeat customers! And our ability to support other local businesses on Cape Cod! We source as much local product as we can and we support artists and musicians throughout the year with special events and we also hold fundraisers. We’ve even had comedy night at the coffeehouse!”
What is one piece of advice or helpful hint that you would give individuals who want to get started as an entrepreneur in the future?
“Give serious thought to what your product is and what it is not. What your values are, and what your brand stands for. Stay focused and execute on those values. You cannot please everyone. When you start trying to do that, you end up doing nothing really good, and a lot either mediocre or really bad. When you know what your values are and your core offering is, the decisions and direction become much clearer.”
Intern and Mini Badass in Training ♥
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