Author: Edward Matanes, BSU student
Coffee, which dates back to 800 AD goat herders, is now a liquid gold that fuels 107 million Americans every day. Although coffee is widely consumer, the competition is absolutely cut throat and is riddled with roadblocks and obstacles for anyone trying to enter. From Dunkin, Starbucks, Honey Dew, McDonalds, and now Amazon, it's nearly impossible to compete with these giants. However, Dennis Toomey, has taken them on, and has fought hard for every inch.
A business birthed from Toomey’s sales cubical in 2016, started as a weekend side business. Originally named “Death before NOREP Coffee”, his company was aimed at the fitness community - especially CrossFit and Powerlifting. Toomey, still to this day does pop up booths at various fitness competitions, and athletes can rest easy as his products are of the highest quality. Toomey would soon rebrand to “Church St. Brewing Company” and the company would soon become profitable as the demand and reputation grew. If you were competing in CrossFit or Powerlifting you sought out the competitions “Church St. Brewing Co” would be attending. This high demand created the opportunity Toomey was looking for. He took the full time leap, leaving his job in sales, and taking his coffee business to the next level.
The challenges a small coffee brewing business face are constantly arising. Dennis laughed as I asked what is the toughest thing you have faced, and he jokingly said “the question should be what is the toughest thing you are currently experiencing”. He says “It's 24/7, 365. The hardest part is keeping up with the competition’’. Maintaining a business and family life - especially as a new father - have proven to be very challenging as well. These challenges have provided great rewards though. The joy of return orders, and the creation of life long customers, have kept Toomey inspired and fueled to keep fighting. He says “the people I get to meet are amazing, I love hearing their stories. How they first fell in love with coffee or even how they got into fitness”.
Church St. Brewing Company has taken another leap recently, from a small pop up business to a 3,200 square foot brewing facility in Canton, MA in 2018. The company offers their famous Costa Rican nitro cold brew coffee and beer. They have done this all without the help of investors, partners, or bank loans. Something Denis is extremely proud of. Currently the facility is used for brewing both coffee and beer for wholesale and their pop ups. The plan for the facility is to be a full service seating location in the next six months.
Small business owners face unique challenges in 2020 that they may not have faced in years prior. Amazon, is hailed by consumers, yet it has created an abundant amount of stress and challenges for small business owners. Denis says that his ecommerce sales have suffered due to Amazon's free next day delivery. They have had to adapt and overcome by offering unique products at a reasonable, but profitable price. On top of that, they must be able to deliver very quickly, just to be included in a consumer's consideration.
Gaining new customers for any business is not only an important task but a difficult one. Church St. Brewing Company utilizes pop ups as their primary way of reaching new people. Denis admits that he is there in person to meet new and potential consumers. “I really rely on showing my face, I am at 90% of my pop ups. I bring new customers by gaining their confidence, showing that they are a small, family owned and operated business”. Denis believes that face to face interactions along with a superior product have been his greatest asset when obtaining new customers.
The current state of Church St. Brewing Company is exciting, as they are really finding their stride. Alongside their high quality products, they bring a refreshing level of energy to the coffee business. At the end of the day, Dennis’ Costa Rican roots and coffee leave you craving and ordering more.