Start-Up Stories – Far Side Coffee
Cold Brew is quickly becoming one of the biggest trends of 2019. It’s taken the UK by storm, with businesses small and large giving consumers their cold coffee fix. But what’s it like for a start-up owner on the front lines? We spoke to Kadie Regan, the founder of Far Side Coffee, about all things entrepreneurship and coffee!
What is Far Side Coffee? What makes it different?
Far Side Coffee is an all female cold brew coffee company from the South West. We make super tasty single origin cold brew coffees that are free from sugar, dairy and additives, made especially for true coffee lovers. We are really proud to use coffees sourced directly from female producers at each origin, working with organisations that support and empower their roles within the coffee industry. It’s no secret that the coffee world is largely dominated by men, and the same is true at origin. These amazing organisations are working to give autonomy and fair opportunities for progression to women working in coffee who have always done so, but without the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
We think what makes us different is that we focus on the flavour and quality of the coffee and how it is sourced, and nothing else. Often the cold coffee market offers up only sugary, milky, flavoured coffee drinks, and we believe you should be able to enjoy a cold coffee drink while still tasting the complexity of the bean and full coffee profile. We simply brew, filter and bottle our cold brews, a simple process that lets each origin really sing and makes each sip super refreshing, deep and flavourful.
Innovation in coffee is at an all time high, where do you see the coffee market heading in the next 2 years?
I find it really hard to predict these types of things, it is a constantly evolving sector with so many amazing creatives working within it.
“On the practical side, I’d like to see a real push towards sustainable, ethical sourcing with more direct trade, and more transparency in the cold coffee market about where coffee is coming from.”
On the more innovative side of things, I think that while people will always love their flat whites and batch brewed coffee, there is definitely a continuing propensity to innovate with cold coffee ideas, and this is definitely still filtering over from the states. I guess we might see more flavoured tinned coffees, more nitro and sparkling cold brews, and more ingenuity in a similar vein as the craft beer market over here, with more interesting and unlikely flavour combinations being put together. Hopefully cold coffee can establish itself as a product to be enjoyed all year round!
What has it been like working as a ‘one woman band’?
One word: rollercoaster! Starting your own business fully solo is one of the most exciting things you can do, but it is also very daunting, tiring and trying. On the one hand, you have complete creative control and can build your brand exactly how you envision it, you can also be flexible and adjust as times moves on without having to defer to other people. You can make quick decisions and go with your gut without really having to explain it to anyone else, and that is a great freedom.
On the other hand, it can be a lonely place when you’re feeling uninspired, or you need to bounce some ideas around.
“Sometimes making big decisions on your own is really intimidating, and you just wish you could share the burden with someone else to not feel so completely and solely responsible.”
Equally, when you’re having a down day, it can be hard without anyone else to pick up the slack or take a call you don’t want to face, and so sometimes that side of it can feel relentless especially as you never really switch off when it’s your own business.
But overall it’s exciting and seriously character building, and you definitely realise you can learn just about anything really fast – Photoshop, Accounts, Sales – it’s all you!
What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenges I faced were mainly towards the beginning in getting my products to market. I remember being 3 days from the product launch, and being told our bottle labels weren’t going to arrive on time, and so I was facing the prospect of launching with plain, amber bottles! And all that after months of planning and setting an early deadline to allow for delays just like that one…
“I think even if you have planned well ahead, prepared for things that could go wrong, thought out each scenario and set everything up to happen on time and correctly, you will always face bigger challenges than you thought possible.”
There will always be things you couldn’t have foreseen that don’t quite work, are delayed or just don’t happen. At first I would let the stress overwhelm me and not be able to see a way out, but the more these challenges were thrown at me the more I realised you can never count on what you thought was going to happen to actually happen, and so in reality you just have to roll with it and do your best in each scenario to get over the newest hurdle. I found that separating issues out and dealing with them one by one, rather than looking at a mounting pile of problems, was really helpful even just mentally. You have to believe you will overcome whatever challenge has been thrown up, and eventually you will.
I’m sure you’ve had lots of amazing moments since launching, which one stands out to you the most?
My biggest, most exciting moment was pitching to a major retailer and being told our product was the best cold brew they’d ever tasted and that we were going to be stocked with them. For me, it was always about having a cold brew that made people stop and realise cold brew was a legitimate way to drink speciality coffee. So having that feedback from a buyer who really loved their coffee – that was amazing.
The journey to launch must have been very hectic, what did a typical day look like for you back then? Does it differ much now?
In all honesty, the weeks and months leading up to launch are a complete blur! I spent almost all of my time at our unit where I brewed and bottled the cold brew by myself, jumping from that to emailing etc on a little desk I had by the side of the brewing area. That time was unbelievably exciting as the thing I’d be working on for so long was finally coming to fruition, but it was also the time of most challenges and headaches as we inched closer to launching. Now, I’m often office based, out doing deliveries or working on testing new recipes/concoctions alongside it all, but it’s not necessarily less hectic than before!
If you could give one piece of advice to fellow female entrepreneurs, what would it be?
My advice would be to never say sorry unless an apology is actually required, as I spent the first year of business apologising my way through every conversation I had when I felt even slightly judged or a bit out of my depth. We all know that everyone blags things a little – or a lot! – in the working world , but I think women seem to feel like they are imposters even when they really aren’t and probably very much know what they’re talking about.
The turning point for me came when I was having a meeting at a coffee business in the States, and a male colleague who joined the group late said hello and shook the hands of all the men around me, and completely ignored me, the only female in the group. I realised then I would never apologise or play myself down again, because it can already be a struggle to even be acknowledged, let alone taken seriously, and saying sorry for no reason is not something we should ever do. The guy clearly didn’t realise that I was actually the potential client – and not, say one of the men’s assistants as I imagine he must have assumed! – but it was a big mistake for him to make and needless to say business went no further.
What would you say is the biggest misconception when starting a business?
A lot of people assume that if you have your own business your time is completely your own and you can do whatever you like, and that is true to a certain extent. But, unlike people who work 9-5, when you start your own business you are ALWAYS thinking about that business, you never just walk away at 5 or 6 o’clock and have your free time.
“Even when you try to enjoy time off or go on a little holiday, you are feeling guilty about not working and don’t actually disconnect fully from the biz.”
Unless you’re really strict with yourself, it’s easy to head towards burn out because even though from the outside it seems like you have a really flexible work schedule, the reality is you are almost never not thinking about work/checking emails/feeling guilty, and that is a hard adjustment to figure out.
When can people find your delicious drinks?
We are stocked in lots of independents, on Amazon and many other outlets both online and off. All of our stockists are on our website, and we’ll be stocked with that retailer I mentioned really soon too 🙂
What’s next for Far Side Coffee?
Right now I’m focused on getting our 2 core products to more and more people, and spreading the cold brew word! Alongside that, I’ll be working behind the scenes on a new (very exciting) product that will hopefully be launching in the not too distant future!
Far Side Coffee are destined for big things, we can’t wait to see where they are in a couple of years time. Want to try some of their amazing coffee? You can grab em here.