Wiley and Sons, a coffee roasting business started by two sophomore students in Wiley Hall, is in the business of ordering coffee beans from Colombia, and roasting them in their own dorm.
Jay Hovis, a business management and finance major, runs the operation of Wiley and Sons with his partner Thomas Williams, a graphic design major, who handles the creative side of the business. Together, they roast coffee.
Wiley and Sons sells their coffee by the pound for $12. They have sold 20 pounds to PLNU students, SustainPLNU and OB Hookah Lounge through word of mouth, Instagram and taste-testing parties in Wiley. For now, they’re putting all of the profit they make back into the business.
Matt Herskowitz, the CFO of Homebrew Startup, an innovation club on campus, referred the pair to Kirstie Hibbard, SustainPLNU’s office assistant and Students for Environmental Action and Awareness club president.
“We met up and asked them a few questions to make sure their sourcing and production was in line with [SustainPLNU’s] values,” said Hibbard. “Everyone loved it and we’ll definitely use them again.”
Wiley and Sons sold four pounds to SustainPLNU for them to distribute at Lomapalooza. Currently, they are working to get their product out in venues like Musoffee or Created Space.
Randal Schober, associate professor of management and advisor of Homebrew Startup, a club that provides a platform for students of various majors to share ideas and discuss potential problems on campus, knows the students and helped them develop a business plan.
“Partnership is key component of business strategy,” Schober said. “It was a great idea for them to reach out and find partners to distribute their product.”
Homebrew Startup meets every other Wednesday to provide a platform for students of various majors to share ideas and discuss potential problems on campus.
Hovis and Williams have been friends since freshman year and always talked about starting a business together. Williams said that some of the best business ideas are born in college.
“We were always bouncing back and forth ideas with each other, but never came up with anything that stuck,” Williams said. “Then, Jay [Hovis] was researching coffee roasting over the summer for his own personal use and when he got back and told me about it, I was like, ‘Dude, that’s our business idea!’”
Hovis and Williams researched different coffee farms to find out which have fair labor. They ended up buying their beans from Huila farms in Colombia, which ships the coffee in three to five days.
After they receive the shipment, they take the beans to the kitchen to roast in half-pound increments with a stovetop roaster. While different coffee beans roast for different time periods, Hovis and Williams know how long their batch takes.
After slowly and consistently roasting, they take the batch outside Wiley Hall and pour it between two bowls to cool down and get the chaff off. Then, they weigh it, and give their customers the option of grinded or whole beans. Finally, they package it in coffee bags with their logo on it.
Michael Lucero, Wiley and Sons very first customer, claimed that their brew is one of the best he has ever had.
“It blows commercial coffee like Starbucks and Peet’s out of the water,” Lucero said. “Wiley and Sons deserves all of the recognition in the world and I endorse it wholeheartedly.”
Hovis said they learned about the process of roasting through reading, but trial and error is how they really improved their brew. Schober facilitated this process of getting feedback and modifying accordingly which is considered a ‘feedback loop’ and he says is essential in business.
Williams is currently designing Wiley and Sons’ website and Hovis is working on obtaining a business license. In the future they hope to supply more coffee shops with their beans.
“Being successful is all about failing [and moving] forward and learning from your mistakes,” said Schober. “Success takes dedication and passion, so if these guys are really passionate about roasting coffee, they’ll find a way to bring their product to the people.”