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Where the Hell is the Starting Line?

Everything starts with an idea. When the idea came to us to become coffee roasters, naturally you think "Okay, we are committed. Now let's start roasting!" What comes next feels like an endless pregame session. Where all you want to happen is to get to the real event but instead your stuck in your Mom's basement taking pregame shots of cheap liquor wondering if you're ever going to make it out before you throw in the towel and pass out. Starting Shady Grounds has kind of felt like that.

We registered the company in January of 2018. Got the name, logo, idea, business plan, etc all squared away. Joy, now let's get roasting! But wait, coffee roasting is considered a food manufacturing business that is subject to some regulations. First we needed to ensure we were allowed to roast at our location in Bethlehem. What followed was working with some great people at City Hall to help us get a variance from the city to allow us to roast. This included going in front of the zoning hearing broad, presenting our case, and gaining the approval of the board. Luckily we cleared the first hurdle and could continue with the dream.

Now we could finally order our roaster. During the zoning process we had plenty of time to research roasters, vendors, sizes, styles, etc.... We settled on a 3 kg from Mill City Roasters for a variety of reasons. They had a strong following, put out a ton of content on roasting and their machines, and were in a cost bracket we could bear. We placed our order in early June and "patiently" waited until the roaster arrived in November. Add in the custom fabricated ductwork, roaster install, propane setup, and state limited food establishment inspection and approval and we were finally ready to sell our roasted coffee in April 2019. I'm not sure we were ever prepared to endure a 15 month warm-up as a coffee roaster where we put out exactly zero pounds of coffee.

I think last Saturday it finally felt like we had progressed to being actual coffee roasters. We had been trying to perfect our coffees for a few months and had some offerings we were proud of that we could sell online and at the Nazareth Farmer's Market. I think the first sigh of relief was having someone at the market who was not a friend or family member try your coffee and enjoy it. The moment when 15 months all builds up to that one second, then the second passes and its time to move on to the next one. We look forward to our future moments when all our hard work comes through, when a seemingly insignificant moment to an onlooker is a much more meaningful moment to us. I'm sure everyone can relate to this with some event in their life. We finally feel like we took the step past the starting line and can't wait to see how far we go.

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