A Family Business: This Coffee House Is Brewing Community in Willcox, Arizona

©Source of Coffee

This spring, GOBankingRates is continuing its annual tradition of the Small Business Spotlight by featuring small businesses that have been nominated by our readers. We hope to shed light on inspiring local businesses, particularly after the pandemic left so many establishments struggling to get back on their feet.

In this small-business feature, we’re highlighting Source of Coffee, a family-owned coffee house that specializes in espresso crafted from organic coffee roasted in Arizona. They serve a variety of teas, luxury chocolates, sodas and homemade lemonades. Source of Coffee stands out in Willcox, Arizona, due to the European model it follows and its quaint coffee house features. Owners Benjamin Morgan and Dana and Debra Suorsa say the location stands out against the other quick coffee shops in the city as it doesn’t have a drive-through, but instead encourages visitors to settle in and play a game of chess or read a book by the fire. The coffee shop prides itself in being a destination and giving back to the community by hosting free events and bringing in other local businesses for its on-site farmers market. Here, we speak with the owners about how their business got started, how inflation has impacted them and what advice they have for future business owners.

Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?

When Dana and Debra first set out to start a coffee shop, it was more because of a vision for the space we have here rather than, perhaps, a lifetime ambition. Dana’s love of architectural design for purpose, Debra’s knowledge of high quality, local ingredients, and the chance availability of whole milk from a new, small herd dairy in the area all came together at the right time.

What did you take from past experiences or jobs that you knew you wanted to be a part of your new business?

Benjamin has always worked in or very close to the hospitality industry. Be it bussing tables at restaurants or marketing larger brands, the rounded experience has started to bring structure to the Source. It has meant that we can focus on staff development and support, which is key for bringing value to a town. We are very intent on training high-quality baristas: the surprise of a visitor when they realize our small city can make a delicious espresso is almost as good as when one of our younger staff uses their experience here to get them a side job when they go to college. We’re about coffee, sure, but we’re about people first.

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What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?

Again, all of us agree it has been watching our staff develop. We really had no idea that the talent was here when we opened, and if it was, would they want to work with us? We’re so lucky they do! Willcox schools produce highly focused, organized and ambitious young adults, and it really saved us. If we hadn’t had the staff who knew what they were doing we would not be where were are. The other aspect is Willcox itself. Thankfully, we’ve seen people getting together here, day after day. Each cup we serve is still just as important as the first one, and the reward is that our community keeps choosing us. We’re a true coffee house, somewhere that’s a destination rather than your fast-fix, drive-thru shop, and we’re proud of it.

How has inflation affected your business and how have you been coping with it?

Inflation is, well, difficult. In reality, though, we all knew costs had to rise as the economy moves forward from a trying time. The fuel prices have increased delivery charges, and the knock-on effect is everywhere. People are being more careful with their money, and that’s where we made a big decision we believe is working out: we’ve changed very little. We’re buying stock in larger bulk to reduce the excess charges, and spreading the cost to our customers across the menu range. We’ve found that we’ve actually been able to reduce the consumer price for our smaller-sized drinks, which feels great, and only minimally increase the more complex recipes. A cup of coffee’s price hasn’t really changed much in the last 20 years, always being in the $3-6 range, when minimum wage is now sitting at $13 an hour. So, when you think about it, coffee is cheaper relative to everyone’s hourly earnings than ever before.

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Why do you believe small businesses like yours are so vital to the Willcox community?

We wouldn’t say we’re vital to the community — the community is vital to us! The truth is that there is always a coffee shop ready to open up somewhere. So it is imperative that the community sees us as a resource and safe place to study, meet friends and family, conduct business and host events, and makes a world-class espresso. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?

Focus, focus, focus. Then plan, and focus some more. Stick to one thing with a few small variances and do it really well. Even here we pushed a little too much at the beginning, and we’re still chasing a few things here and there to catch up. Just remember, when you start the train rolling you can’t stop it: hold on, make sure you have spare parts and enjoy the ride!

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