According to Lee Paterson, the founder of Hula Daddy Coffee, not all coffee is created equal.
The words “pure Kona coffee” can be deceiving. For those who are coffee connoisseurs or just desire the morning cup to get your day started, know that the word “pure” has a certain status to live up to.
When Lee started his business in 2002, his goal was to create a coffee company that lived up to that status. It all began with the purchase of a pasture in Kona, Hawaii — two years later his first crop was produced and Hula Daddy was born.
Hula Daddy is a small coffee shop on the Big Island of Hawaii nestled inside lush plantations. It is also a boutique coffee farm at the 1,400 foot level of the Mt. Hualalai near the northern end of Kona. Lee sells roasted and green coffee beans that have been grown on the plantation. He now has more than 34 acres of orchards where the sweet smell of coffee and hints of chocolate fill the air as visitors bask in the views of hand-planted coffee trees.
Although Hula Daddy is located in paradise, it was not smooth sailing to get the business up and running. Lee had to deal with numerous barriers when he first started the company. He previously owned his own law firm so he knew about running a business. However, he didn’t know anything about producing a high quality coffee. Understanding how to take a coffee tree and produce a world class coffee was just part of the learning curve. He talked to plenty of professionals in the industry about their farms and from there he was able to put the pieces together on his own.
Lee’s top three pieces of advice for others looking to start their own business:
- Understand your target audience: Hula Daddy has paid attention to what customers want by talking to them when they visit the shop, and through online outlets like Facebook and Blogs. The virtual customer experience they have built has been successful in reaching customers outside of Hawaii. This has resulted in sales throughout the world (including places like Australia, Japan, Korea, Germany, Switzerland).
- Quality over quantity: Lee’s goal is simple: create a coffee that people recognize as the best in the World. Other coffee growers have the tendency to produce lower quality beans because they are focused on mass quantities and not taking the time to let the beans mature with flavor. Hula Daddy has continued to evolve their coffee beans and that has helped their coffee receive historic scores in Coffee Review.
- Find new ways to connect with customers: Lee constantly provides new and innovative ways to build relationships with customers, and to educate them about coffee. Some of the ideas they have launched include a web cam of the tasting room, a coffee talk Hula Blog, an e-newsletter, and a Hula Daddy Coffee Club.
Lee loves the customer aspect of his business and making people happy with their purchases and overall experience. It is clear that he takes just as much pride in his coffee as he does with his customers. Sales are up for Lee in the recession and it just shows how important it is to pay attention to details and quality.
Being a former coffee store manager I can tell you first hand that Hula Daddy’s 100% Kona Private Reserve is a taste of heaven in a cup. If you don’t believe me, try some for yourself.