CENTRE WELLINGTON – A local online coffee business may have found the right blend of passion, quality and grit.
Genuineo Coffee Co is an ecommerce coffee business based in Centre Wellington offering ethical and premium roast and flavoured blends.
Founder Josh Johnson said he aims to provide a 'one-stop-shop' and bring a 'fancy, boujie experience' to your door.
“It gets delivered in a nice, mat black bag with tissue paper and all that,” said Johnson, who delivers the coffee to local customers. "It adds a personalized touch and I write on the packaging slip, and am always the one to reach out to people if there is an issue with any order and things like that."
Started in July 2020, the business now offers 14 different coffee blends from Central and South America, and Indonesia. The beans are sourced in Ontario and sent to a roaster near London. Outside of the roasting process, Johnson handles all other aspects of the business.
“I’m a one-man show, I'm everything from an accountant to a marketer, I do it all,” said Johnson, who credits his educational background in human resources for developing the skills.
Johnson recalls always wanting to start his own ecommerce business and be an entrepreneur. He is inspired by other entrepreneurs in his family, like his grandfather and father. Growing up in Fergus, Johnson also worked at Tim Horton’s for six years when the idea came to him to launch his own coffee business.
"I was like, 'That's it!'" said Johnson about the moment. "At first, I didn't know if that was going to be a cafe or a shop, so then, I started looking into it and I was like, 'You know what Elora, Fergus and Guelph does not have? Or in Kitchener and Waterloo? It was ecommerce for people."
The Fergus native adds the name of his business, Genuineo, is a combination of two words, ‘genuine’ and ‘devo,’ which is the male equivalent of a ‘diva.’
"I think it intrigues people," said Johnson about the name.
In the beginning of his business, Johnson launched seasonal collections, which includes three types of coffee, one flavoured and two non-flavoured blends. As his business was picking up, Johnson said his mother passed away in February, and he took time off from the business this summer. He cites her as one of his biggest supporters, along with his father.
“It's been a hard year, but at the same time, this company, I have put so much into that I love doing this," said Johnson. "Some days it’s sad, but my Mom would want me to continue."
One of the first and most popular blends offered by Genuineo Coffee Co. is Supremo, which is roasted coffee beans from Supremo, Colombia. In terms of flavoured blends, Johnson said Renegado, a blend of Mexican and Colombian coffee, which smells like chocolate peanut butter, has also taken off with customers.
“I come up with all the flavour profiles, that includes mixing them myself,” said Johnson. “Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're a flop.”
Another blend becoming more popular among customers is Chiapas, which is coffee beans from Chiapas, Mexico. Prior to launching the product, Johnson admits he never had coffee from Mexico before.
“As soon as I tried it I was like, ‘This is coffee, like this is so good,’” said Johnson, describing it as a lighter blend than the Supremo and tasting ‘nutty' and 'sweet.'
On the business side, Johnson said there's so much entrepreneurs can do with branding and partnerships with coffee.
"At first, I really just started with South American and Mexican, and things like that, and now I've branched out to things like Indonesian coffee, and now I plan to launch some African roasts in 2023 on the website."
Originally advised against entering the coffee business, Johnson said he was too passionate about the idea, what he was doing and the people he had met in the industry, to walk away. Now two years later, he said he was glad he didn't listen to their advice.
"Had I not trusted my gut and followed those other people, I would be in debt, making clothes that no one was buying," said Johnson, who originally thought about running a clothing ecommerce store.
Going forward, Johnson said he is looking into launching a satellite location and expanding his services into other provinces and more in the United States. As a small business owner, he also hopes to continue the partnerships he has built with other local businesses, Kenneth Ave. Tea Company and The Daily Grind 519.
Johnson said following your dreams and staying true to yourself helped him in the midst of challenges to his business. He said things may go wrong when running your own business, but he believes the show must go on.
"That's how success is built."