By Alicia Cunningham | Feb 14, 2018
Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah
Industry: Food & Beverage
While some people shy away from business ventures with family, Robert Hibl, owner of Park City Coffee Roaster, took a different approach. He actively sought out a business he could start with his twin brother.
"It was something we always wanted to do together," he says. They didn't grow up dreaming of opening a coffee business, but Hibl was smart enough to recognize he should invest in something he knew. And thanks to many a year hanging out in a coffee shop, he knew coffee.
"It's hip now," he adds, "but for at least ten years, we did not have any competition. No one was roasting coffee in this part of Utah. We definitely had the advantage."
The Hibl brothers bought a little shop at the top of Main Street in a boutique town that was starting to develop a worldwide reputation, Park City. "We could see things pick up, and we knew we should get going on the business as fast as we could," Hibl says. Especially with the 2002 Winter Olympics headed their way in just a few years. "We needed to get our ducks in a row. Before the Olympic Games started, we had to build a brand. We had to get local support. And luckily it all came together."
Not content to just roast coffee on their side of Park City, the Hibl brothers began to reach out to their neighbors: restaurants as well as ski resorts. "We knew there was a demand for our coffee," Hibl explains. "Customers were asking us where they could buy it. We just had to put in the time, pound the pavement, and close the sale. We went in to these resorts and restaurants at the right time. They were looking for us as much as we were looking for them. They wanted to offer something fresh, something local. It didn't happen all at once; it took a number of years to build it up. But today we're the coffee provider at the Eccles Theater as well as the Sundance Festival, among many, many others."
Park City Coffee Roaster only works with bean sources that can prove their beans are certified organic as well as certified fair trade where it is guaranteed that the farms pay a livable wage.
"We go through companies like Sustainable Harvest that sources directly from farms that are certified. We have beans from about 17 countries at any time in our warehouse. We've been to a few of the farms, and our goal is to see all of them one day. We just need our own jet plane," Hibl jokes.
The beans go through customs and are then shipped by truck directly to the Park City Coffee Roaster warehouse. "We've moved into a new, much bigger warehouse and a semi truck can literally drive right through. It's a lot easier now," Hibl says.
The beans have already been treated and bagged by the time they reach Park City, and it is up to the Hibl brothers to start the roasting process. This was an area of great concern to the brothers, and so they recently invested in a new roaster that is mindful of the environment.
"The more you roast, the more particles you put into the air," Hibl explains. "We purchased a new roaster to radically reduce our particle distribution. Our pollution index is at a negative right now."
Challenges: A wide open market. Small coffee shops are more popular than ever, and Hibl is disappointed that much of his competition is choosing inferior beans to work with. "It's taking Utah coffee a step back," Hibl explains. "We pride ourselves at offering our customers the top one percent in terms of quality. We do not buy large lot beans, and we find it odd that other producers are choosing to do so and are getting away with it."
Opportunities: Customized Coffees. Park City Coffee Roaster is partnering with another business to offer customized coffees specifically for their clients. "The other business has a strong online presence, and it's a cool partnership for us."
Need: Talent. "Utah has a tight job market," Hibl says. "Employees are hard to come by. We want someone that is qualified, that wants to stay, that we can invest in."