Joe Lozano was never really that passionate about coffee. Sure, he liked to drink it. But he didn’t know much about the stuff other than it helped him work long shifts as a restaurant chef, which he did for 20 years. But then a group of friends in the business approached him about joining them in a new venture in Austin that would roast coffee. Lozano was curious and he figured the skills he had acquired over the years might come in handy. Plus, he needed something new to do. “I got into the coffee business because I needed a job,” says Lozano.
As it turned out, that first venture never really got off the ground. But Lozano decided to embark on his own by starting his own roasting service. After he learned the ropes with that business, and built key relationships with customers like Kerbey Lane Cafe, he sold the company and bought another existing business called Third Coast Coffee in 2008. He’s been growing that business ever since. While Lozano sticks to selling his coffee close to home in Texas to ensure its freshness, customers can now place orders online as well at ThirdCoastCoffee.com.
One of the things that makes Lozano’s business so unique – and his coffee in such high demand – goes back to a decision he made about 13 years ago when he became one of the seven founding members of a fledgling coffee cooperative whose goal was to buy Fair Trade organic coffee from Latin America, Africa, and Indonesia. The idea was to pay farmers a fair price through the Fair Trade system to grow organic coffee beans. Many communities where coffee grows around the world are quite rural and remote and, as a result, winning farmers’ trust can take a long time.