South Lake Tahoe Roasting Facility

South Lake Tahoe Roasting Facility

[[ the comeback ]]

Before my climbing accident I had this determination, to do whatever it takes, work as hard as I have to, for as long as I have to. Rake yards, shovel snow… till I get it. Until I get the sales I need and can transition to buying a roaster and roasting locally in my own space.
In that moment when the rock broke off, I’m 15 feet above the ground holding onto nothing. Nothing was certain in that moment but my determination didn’t change. My thought was literally, “We’ll just see what happens after I hit the ground.” All my ambitions were with me in that moment, and none of them changed afterward–only the journey changed.
Being carried out by paramedics, I felt that this new challenge was simply calling me to rise up and be greater and stronger than I had to before. An old friend of mine called these times “opportunity for greatness.”

2 days later, a friend visited me in the hospital. I told him I felt that something big was on the way, something great was going to come out of this. I just knew it. I could feel it. That friend coordinated an online fundraiser for me.
I couldn’t continue the physically demanding side work I was doing to pay the bills, and upcoming medical bills were uncertain as I didn’t have any insurance at the time of the accident.
My church collected donations as well. And I had barely been released from the hospital when another friend contacted me to put together a fundraiser event at South Lake Brewing Company.

And others gave. Friends, neighbors, even customers at my little sister’s work handed her a check for me.
So. many. people. gave.
Love. Texts. Cards. Meals. Nursing me back to life. Stronger one day at a time.
Then I had an appointment to discuss insurance. And during that meeting I was told that I qualified for MediCal, because of how little I made from the business and not being able to work a second job.
Every cent of my medical bills was covered.

Doctors appointments continued. Physical therapy began. As I recovered, everyday activities became effortless. And because of the financial support I had received, I was able to support a friend in an accident who didn’t have the medical coverage I had. Support also freed me up to focus full time on my physical recovery and the determination I originally had for Refuge Coffee.

I selected new coffees for the year, ordered over 1,000 lbs, connected with and began serving new clients, and made plans to launch big changes to the business with the intent of reaching more people and having a greater community impact. But while all this was going on I had one goal that came before all of these, that I was always working on, always thinking about–to launch my own roasting facility in South Lake Tahoe instead of renting equipment in Carson. After months of searching, calling, researching, meeting with the city, evaluating risks, following leads to dead ends, considering space in Kingsbury, even in Carson–I got a text that there was city approved space open, literally a 2 minute drive from my house.

The space was clean, easy to convert to my needs. But it was twice the size I needed, and twice the price I wanted…
I went home after seeing it, thinking of what would happen if I went after the space and failed. It scared me to death. I thought hard, lying awake, about what Refuge meant to me, to my hometown, my community–to every single person that supported me when my health, my finances, and my dream were on the line. What if Refuge stopped, shut down? And I faced the choice–am I going to bring it home? Am I going to establish Refuge for this community? Or keep maintaining it in its patched together state? What’s my plan? Am I going to keep it small and spread out and weak? Or am I going to finish it? I turned down steady jobs to keep doing this. I chose to put on my work gloves and do side work to keep doing this. Did I reserve any intention to go back to safety? Bring it home. Bring it home.
Go. all. in. No turning back.
And the very, very last ounce of reservation, of comfort, of safety, of thoughts to go back–there, lying in bed, was the moment where I gave it up. No other time or place could offer me that decision, except that moment.

I had already lined up an equipment loan months ago, I had gotten quotes for all the roaster installation work (gas, electric, ventilation). Then I spent the next few days evaluating the costs of transitioning from renting equipment to launching a facility in South Shore.
And finally, I made a list of all the risks I would be taking–one by one, everything that put me on the line, this dream on the line. And for every item on that list I formulated a plan to mitigate or eliminate that risk. I worked from this list week after week. Double checking everything. Including all costs. Visiting the potential location over and over with different professionals. Moving forward each week with the intent to sign a lease agreement.

Here I am.

I’ve accepted the equipment loan. I’ve ordered the roaster to be built.
I’ve signed the lease.
I’m starting a roasting facility in South Lake Tahoe.
And the cost of this transition would have been impossible were it not for these circumstances and how they miraculously coalesced in the past several months.
The accident.
And you.
Every single one of you.
Everyone who supported. Everyone who stepped up for me.
My community. My family. My friends.

This business, this roastery, will be the result of the love and support of the most amazing community I’ve ever experienced.

All gratitude,