Moving our warehouse: Update

August 29, 2016

As most of you already know, we spent all of last week moving Sweet Maria’s and Coffee Shrub to our new warehouse up the street. The move’s gone well, and we’re working to shore up the big things this week. In reality, we’ll likely be putting on the “final touches” for weeks to come, but we expect our order fulfillment to be back up to full capacity middle of the week (Wednesday August 31).

Panorama. It’s as big as it looks.

This is the first move for Shrub, but for Sweet Maria’s, this is the fourth relocation in 17 years. A few years after opening shop in an office space in Columbus, OH, selling small bags of green coffee and brewing cups for the occasional passerby, Sweet Maria’s packed up and headed to the sunny West Coast landing in a small warehouse space in Emeryville, CA. We soon outgrew that location, picking up and moving operations to an improved 7000 square foot space in lovely West Oakland where we’ve spent the last 8 years. We had a good run at location 3.0, where Shrub was born 7 years ago. But if inventory is any indication of growth, we’ve been bursting at the seem for some time now, and so this move does a lot to relieve the pressure.

At 15,000 square feet, our new Adeline Street location affords us much more room for green coffee and product storage, as well as additional spaces for hosting demos and cup tasting in the near future. And just as important, we’re able to set up the warehouse workflow around working smarter, with less requirement for the strenuous physical labor that comes with constantly trying to fit a boulder into a teacup (or perhaps demitasse is more appropriate!).

Our new loading dock.

To illustrate, last year we purchased and processed 50+ full containers of coffee (42,000 pounds each) in a warehouse that can hold about 1.5 containers max. This meant many, many trips to an offsite storage facility, accompanied by much physical labor organizing 60+ kg bags of coffees in order to have backstock on hand for all of the coffees we sell. Doubling our square footage allows us to change our footprint of how we store coffee, actually quadrupling our storage capacity. Of equal importance is the addition of our very first loading dock, which means we can increase our use of forklifts and other machinery for moving coffee in and out of our warehouse, further decreasing our reliance on the literal backs of employees. We value our bodies, and so lowering the lifting requirements is a huge plus!

Marcos, testing the new green coffee filling machines.

We didn’t build the walls or pour the concrete (well, not all of them at least), but just about everything else has been completely DIY. From dealing with City permits and coordinating building plans on the part of Maria (no small feat!), to Tom’s tiling the bathrooms, and to every single employee here taking part in moving, cleaning, and building the infrastructure (which is a HUGE job), this has been a collaborative effort with little to no outside help. This is very much in the spirit of both Sweet Maria’s and Coffee Shrub as businesses.

It goes without saying that we are excited for this move, and all the possibilities and promise that comes with it. More than anyone, we want to be moved and completely set up today….last week even. But these things take time, this milestone move now 17 years in the making. So for now, I have to get back to unloading a box truck full of coffee, mylar bags, and packing equipment. One step closer to the finish line. -Dan

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