Entrepreneurship: Buona Caffe
This article was originally published at The Clubhou.se
Reflecting back to starting very young with his lawn business, John Curry commented about entrepreneurship, “I guess, really, it has always been part of my life.” A side business in photography during high school developed into a 35 year career in the newspaper industry. John spent the last 14 years of his career running the photography department of The Athens Banner-Herald and being the Visual Director at The Augusta Chronicle. John also had a rental property business in Athens, Ga and began roasting coffee as a hobby. Side projects have a knack for finding their way into a primary focus for John, and coffee was next to take center stage.
Buona Caffe Artisan Roasted Coffee officially launched in Augusta, Ga in 2010. When asked how he discovered his co-founder, John shared, “Pat, my wife is co-owner of the business. We found each other 40 years ago at work!” They began popping up at the Saturday Market at the River and events around town to build a following. John also went knocking on doors of local restaurants to sell their coffee. At this time, they were roasting in a store front across the street from their current Central Avenue location. Originally self-funded, a small SBA loan helped to open the first coffee shop/espresso bar in summer 2013. In preparing to expand into new spaces, Buona Caffe recently went through a rebrand with the Alison South Marketing Group. A second location opened in summer 2018 at the new Georgia Cyber Center. And most recently, they have expanded into a third location on Reynolds Street in downtown Augusta which serves as a storage & roasting facility and houses a classroom & training area where they train baristas and hold coffee related tutorials for customers. When you visit, you can also see the espresso machine showroom!
Many days, the routine for John is to resupply locations with fresh baked goods, coffee, and general items, and as with any business owner, reply to emails and handle bookkeeping. Once a week, John commits a full day to the bulk of the roasting, taking over 400 pounds of coffee from green to optimal roast. Usually he has a second roast day of 150 pounds later in the week.
Along with supplying their two locations, Buona Caffe roasts and sells coffee wholesale to restaurants, coffee shops, caterers, etc. If you have had a cup of coffee with your meal out and about in some of Augusta’s fine dining, you’ve likely enjoyed a cup of Buona coffee. Travelling to the Wilcox in Aiken, Greystone Inn at Lake Toxaway, or the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta is a long way to go for a cup of Buona, though it will also be there waiting for you.
Reflecting on the past few years, John explained, “The business has very much grown and developed over time. The largest impact of growing the customer base has been word of mouth. We really have the best customers.”
John spoke to the next steps, “Since we have recently made the jump from one to three locations, our main focus will be getting all three running smoothly and to finish implementing the initial plan for our production facility. We will also be hiring some key people. For that, we look at resumes, go through an interview, and get a sense of behind bar interactions with customers as part of the hiring process. A large number of our employees come from being customers. We are also considering some coffee centric certifications.”
Being a member of theClubhou.se has also had its impact. “There is always something to learn. I think the opportunities for networking are very valuable and I have met other entrepreneurs that I’m now doing business with.”
Of running your own business, John remarked, “Be prepared to work hard and long hours. No one is going to care about your business as much as you do.” John derived one of his hallmark motivations from a favorite book of his, The Go Giver, by Bob Burg and John D. Mann: Provide more value than they expect.