January 30, 2016 12:00 pm • By KEVIN ABOUREZK | LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR
Jonathan Primo Fuego Galicia has been roasting coffee beans for 10 years.
A lifelong coffee aficionado, he started cooking them first on his stovetop before he moved to a cast-iron pot over a fire pit in his backyard. Eventually, he and his wife, Nancy Galicia, bought a small micro-roaster, and they began roasting enough beans to share with friends and family.
But after learning some family members had begun selling the coffee beans for a profit, the couple realized they had a product they could potentially share with the rest of the world.
Their entrepreneurial vision took an unexpected turn last February when they attended an anniversary event at Natural Grocers in Omaha. While there, they tasted a coffee concentrate drink called Pur Java. The couple enjoyed the drink but realized they could improve it by providing its makers with their beans.
They then approached the drink’s manufacturer, TenBack Inc., about providing the company with coffee beans but were told the company was considering selling its coffee division. After some deliberation, the couple and one of Primo Galicia’s co-workers, Mark Metzger, decided to purchase TenBack’s coffee division and start their own company, The Basket Is Full Inc.
“We ended up getting into this business by accident,” Primo Galicia said. “We knew that Pur Java was a good product, but we knew we could make it better."
Since then, The Basket Is Full has continued manufacturing Pur Java and another drink produced by TenBack, Joe Fizz Coffee Soda, at 3939 N. 48th St. and has its products on the shelves of nearly 100 retail stores.
In September, the company signed vendor agreements with Hy-Vee, Akin’s Natural Foods Market and Natural Grocers to supply those chains’ Midwest stores.
Over the next five years, the company plans to expand aggressively and hopes to put its products on the shelves of 1,000 new stores and hopes to create 1,000 new jobs by expanding into Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. Primo Galicia said the company wants to sell its products in retail stores such as Baker's Supermarkets, Whole Foods and Family Fair supermarkets and in coffee shops and restaurants.
Primo Galicia said he expects to see the company earning $750,000 in revenue by early 2017 and $1.5 million by early 2018.
“We are getting bigger,” Metzger said. "We’re getting larger. We’d like to continue to grow.”
However, The Basket Is Full has run into a financial bottleneck and has begun seeking funds to help cover the costs of raw materials, such as glass bottles and labels. Primo Galicia said the company’s trio of owners has invested their personal savings into buying the coffee product brands and manufacturing equipment and didn’t foresee the kind of growth in demand they’ve seen.
“We did not expect it to move this fast,” Primo Galicia said.
The company has established a Kickstarter campaign to raise $8,000 but had only about $150 as
Primo Galicia said the company’s growth benefits the nearly 150 farmers it pays to grow its coffee beans in Central and South America, as well as in Yemen. He said the company has sought to provide enough income for its coffee growers to make them at least middle-class citizens in their respective countries.
Growth also would allow the company to begin hiring full-time employees. Currently, its staff consists of the three owners, who've all kept their day jobs and have given themselves no salaries from their work for the coffee company. And growth would allow the company’s owners to provide funds for a variety of philanthropic endeavors they support, including prevention of sexual assault and sustainable farming.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7225 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @LJS_Abourezk.