Students open coffee roastery

Ryan Luig, computer science senior, holds up one of the coffee bags that contains green coffee beans that they later roasted on  March 22. Photo by Arianna Davis

When it comes to business owners, the image of a professional-looking person, suit and all, with the mentality to take on the day and any challenge that crosses them with effortless style comes to mind. Stress, managing executive roles and taking care of unwanted tasks may sound intimidating or too far to reach for some. Match that with being a full-time student and there’s an extra block that could be preventing one from accomplishing their dreams.

Mason Wilson, management senior, and Ryan Luig, computer science senior, want to test that way of thinking. The idea of being both a full-time student and business owner is a challenge they have both taken on with the help of peers and mentors.

“I have a friend who also started a business. He’s four years older than us and juggles running a gym while also being a graduate student. We asked him, ‘How do you do it?’, and he said, ‘You just got to embrace the suck.’ We probably complain about it a lot, but you kind of have to do the most that you can,” Luig said. “Maybe school suffers a little bit, maybe the business suffers a little bit, but we do what we can.”

Wilson admitted being in charge of both roles is a lot of work, but the experience is rewarding nonetheless.

“We enjoy doing it, it’s something we both get a kick out of. Both the business side of it and making the coffee. We both get a lot out of it,” Wilson said.

“Maybe school suffers a little bit, maybe the business suffers a little bit, but we do what we can.”
-Ryan Luig, computer science senior

Wilson and Luig’s business, Loft Roasters, is a coffee roastery whose mission is to deliver quality roasted coffee beans to people who are looking for authentic taste. While they don’t currently brew coffee, and don’t plan to make it into a brewery, their main focus is being attentive to their customers, making worthy connections and allowing people to develop a love for higher-grade coffee. They can hand deliver it or ship outside of Wichita Falls with applied shipping charges.

“We take orders in person, we get their phone numbers, roast their coffee and deliver it in person. Since we don’t actually brew the coffee and serve drinks, there’s not a lot of competition,” Wilson said. “If anything, the brewery shops could actually help us since we are looking to sell our roaster in mass quantity.”

Wilson stated that their business would not have begun as smoothly as it did without the help of a free, on campus service called the Small Business Development Center, located in Dillard College of Business Administration. The program not only gave them tips on how to establish their business name through applying for LLC, but also allowed Wilson and Luig to make Loft Roasters official by adopting licenses and through free counseling.

“We took advantage of SBDC. We met with two guys named Walter and Dan who gave us free consulting and tips on how to do splash pages and other initial advice,” Wilson said. “They got us through all the work that goes into applying for our LLC  and attaining our licensing for Loft Roasters. It’s beneficial for any student who is interested in starting or pursuing a business idea.”

While Wilson and Luig’s friendship goes back to middle school, the idea of starting a business didn’t fully blossom until their junior year of college, when they began to explore their passion for coffee.

“My passion started in freshman year. That’s when I started making the transition, slowly, from Folgers to better coffee and started taking care in how I made and brewed it,” Luig said.

In the beginning, understanding coffee and putting the care they wanted into their own coffee was a series of experimenting and exploring other shops.

“It was a matter of trial and error and going around to different shops and seeing how they did it and learning from that,” Wilson said.

Mason Wilson, management senior, grinds coffee to be brewed for sampling purposes on March 22. Photo by Arianna Davis

Once the idea began to manifest, Wilson and Luig turned to mentors and outside aid in their journey to starting their business. Addison Roberts, who works as an executive director at the Arc of Wichita County, is close to Wilson and helped to work alongside him in pursuing his passions and ideas.

“His passion and excitement about the ideas they [him and Luig] came up with stood out more than anything. I was automatically interested in what their plans were because of his energy,” Roberts said.

While Roberts didn’t play a huge part in the actual kick starting of their business, she did offer her help in different tasks such as website design and maintaining that direction of passion.

“Always having mentors that you can bounce ideas off of so you don’t lose sight of what you need to focus on is important. Coming up with that big time dream is great, but you have to be realistic about the steps and goals of getting to that point,” Roberts said.

Roberts also said she was glad to be able to watch the idea manifest and turn into something that is achievable.

“I’ve been blessed to be around talented people that are dreamers and visionaries, but we also have to break down projects realistically. I have vision and have been able to accomplish a lot of things, but now this is somebody that’s at the very beginning and it’s exciting to see that and watch it grow,” Roberts said.

Wilson and Luig are both graduating at the end of the semester. Their plans after graduation? What they know of now includes Ultimate frisbee, working to save money, and continuing to grow the business. Both want to expand their knowledge and experience with coffee in China.

“If this company in China will take a third intern, my plan is to work for them. So it would be me, Mason, and our other friend Joel studying coffee in China for maybe a year or so. By the time we come back, we’ll have all the information and contacts we need to get a shop going,” Luig said.


LOFT ROASTERS MENU
Ordering available through Facebook

Bag Size
⇒ 1/2 pound: $9
⇒ 1 pound: $16

Origin of Bean
(Origins change frequently)
⇒ Ethiopia
NEW China

Whole or Ground
⇒ Whole Bean
⇒ Ground bean