Commercial Coffee Roaster News, Customer Stories
The Obstacle Is the Way: Carlos Sims and Happy Home Coffee Roasters
Setting the Scene
Carlos Sims Jr came to specialty coffee from the hospitality sector. The catalyst for his career change came when a new coffee shop opened up in town. The cafe served customers of Des Moines, but it also served its workforce, offering job training for young adults who needed direct support in the workplace. Interested in their mission, Carlos joined the team as an assistant manager.
The cafe was a hub for community kinship, where a large diversity of customers could come together to enjoy one drink, while also supporting a local mission. The aspect that interested Carlos the most was the connecting power of coffee, and working at the cafe gave him an outlet to contribute.
So when the general manager offered Carlos the opportunity to learn to roast on the cafe roaster, he accepted. And he googled “how to roast coffee,” a phrase that took him to Mill City Roasters educational content. 2016 was the year that, through research and trial-and-error, he learned to roast.
The Way Up
When the cafe job ended, Carlos found himself facing a decision to find another company to work for–hopefully one with a philosophy aligned with his own–or to build something himself, from scratch. He chose the latter, and in 2019, Happy Home Coffee Roasters came to life via an MCR-500.
“As we opened, there was always something to do,” Carlos says. The roastery walls needed paint, the menu needed to be built, equipment needed cleaning and maintaining. Just getting the operation up and running was work enough. Adding on the stress of fine-tuning his roasting skills, and balancing the startup labor with parenting he and Kaitlyn’s three children made the early months chaotic.
As the company grew, Carlos became accustomed to the tasks, and things got easier. The daily work started to feel like the background noise to the relational work that would feed Happy Home’s evolution. His focus shifted to starting and maintaining new relationships with other local businesses. Getting the Happy Home Coffee Roasters name out into the world became the new challenge.
For two years, the company evolved. Kaitlyn worked behind-the-scenes on media and marketing, while Carlos focused on roasting and managing. An MCR-3 replaced the MCR-500 as production roaster, although the MCR-500 was still used for sample roasting. When Covid-19 shut things down, the pair carried on the work despite the changes in social and commercial structure in Des Moines.
Then, in 2021, the impact of the ongoing pandemic became too much to ignore. That, coupled with the team’s attempts to move the company out-of-state, brought the operation to a natural pause. They ceased production, and Carlos looked elsewhere to find a more stable job to hold down during the pandemic.
Between Happy Home’s pause in 2021 and relaunch in 2022, Carlos worked as a roaster for BLK & Bold coffee, a preacher for Frontier Church, and a manager for Mars Cafe. The latter two jobs stayed when he returned to his own business; now, he juggles those with co-operating Happy Home with Kaitlyn and taking care of their three children.
Their family has been a core pillar in Happy Home’s brand philosophy as well as their marketing. They are a brand that roasts easy-to-love coffees for family-oriented moments. Their labels include photos of Carlos and Kaitlyn’s children, as a means of being open and embodying their brand’s idea of connecting people with each other.
Now that the business has officially restarted, Carlos has made a few changes to the way that Happy Home Coffee Roasters operates. Firstly, he’s changed the way he sources green coffee to align more closely with Happy Home Coffee Roaster’s brand philosophy, with a focus on the story of the greens and the relationship of the importer with their sources versus finding the best coffee for the price range.
He’s also pivoted away from one-off experimental coffees and leaned the menu further into reliable products. “We need a menu and buying practices for longevity,” Carlos says.
The Happy Home Coffee Roasters Menu
The Happy Home Coffee Roasters online shop offers four products: two blends and two single origin, one of which is decaf. A third single origin, a Brazil peaberry, is also slated to drop later this year.
The blends, dark roast Family Matters and medium roast Home Sweet Home, are curated to bridge the gap for customers interested in specialty coffee but looking for a more approachable drink. Carlos wants every kind of coffee drinker to find something in the Happy Home Coffee Roasters lineup. Instead of marketing to a particular demographic or specialty coffee customer, he’s stocking coffees that any of his neighbors or out-of-state customers could appreciate.
The coffees come from small importers like Atlas Coffee in Seattle and Mountain High JZ Coffee, an Iowa-based company that specializes in Guatemala greens.
Along with coffee products, Carlos has also changed his menu in round two to include a lineup of content, including a regular podcast that includes both coffee content as well as self-improvement content.
The next move for Happy Home Coffee Roasters is a mobile build-out, which Kaitlyn is planning to execute. With a presence in Des Moines’ market and event scene, the team can re-establish their company, return to original goals, and continue to make adjustments to fit the growth curve that’s best for them.
This next year, with the added advantage of the mobile shop, brand establishment is Happy Home’s ultimate goal. “There’s no magic bullet for growing your business,” Carlos says. Patience and a consistent push in one direction will yield the best results; for Happy Home, that means a recognizable brand that exists in both a product line as well as a philosophy.
In the meantime, the team is working on launching a holiday box with samples of all coffees currently for sale in the eshop. Carlos is also working on content to send out in the boxes as well as in future orders, such as custom cards.
Bring Happy Home Coffee Roasters Home
In Des Moines, you can purchase Happy Home coffee at Mars cafe any day of the week. Otherwise, browse the Happy Home Coffee Roasters menu on their website, where you will also be able to peruse the brand’s upcoming content offerings. If you want to follow along with news, upcoming product drops, and popup schedules, or find Happy Home Coffee Roasters on Instagram and Facebook.
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