Trip across the globe gives inspiration for coffee business
A Perthshire woman was inspired to start her own coffee roasting business after a trip to the other side of the world.
Cornelia MacWilliam said watching locals roasting coffee beans when she visited Papua New Guinea inspired her to set up her own business back home, Alyth-based Little Birdie Coffee.
From having the idea to selling her first pack of coffee took Cornelia about two years, but now she has big plans for the business.
“With a background in food production, starting a business has always been my dream,” she told us.
“I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel to where there was access to a lot of amazing coffee beans which were perfect for roasting on the stove-top.
“I was fascinated by the process. Coffee of that quality is not easily available in Scotland, so Little Birdie Coffee was born.”
She said: “From having the idea to start a coffee roasting business to selling my first pack of coffee took about two years.
“In those months, I set up the business, worked on my product range, branding, packaging, website, social media and, most importantly, perfected the art of commercial coffee roasting.”
Cornelia sold her first bag of coffee last July and now has a range of eight freshly roasted coffees, a selection of eight fine looseleaf teas and seven different flavours of luxury hot chocolate flakes.
Her products are available through a range of local delis and farm shops, as well as a website.
Cornelia is grateful for the help she got at the outset of her venture. “Very early on, I contacted both GrowBiz and Business Gateway for business advice and both these organisations have been essential in getting me set up,” she said.
“They gave me advice on a wide range of issues from what type of company I should set up to VAT registration, and legislation for running a food production business and trading standards for food labelling.”
The business has, however, been affected by the cost-of-living crisis. “The rise in energy costs and inflation has certainly had an impact on my business,” she admits.
“My input costs like electricity, packaging, raw products and delivery charges are continuously increasing. At the same time, I try to keep the prices to my customers constant.”
Despite these setbacks, Cornelia is undeterred in her ambition to expand the business. “This year, I hope to secure more retail outlets and expand my online sales.
“At the moment, I am in the planning phase of expanding my roastery’s capacity. Once I’ve increased my production capacity, I will need to think of getting extra help.”
So what is her advice for wannabe entrepreneurs?
“Do your planning and if your idea makes financial sense and you have the passion to make it work, do it.
“Everything does not have to be absolutely perfect from day one, but nothing will happen unless you make a start.”
The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
13 Mar 2023