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Start Your Business Success Stories

Brooklyn Coffee Roaster Says Dedicate Time to Honing Your Craft

Brooklyn Coffee Roaster Says Dedicate Time to Honing Your Craft
Gorilla Coffee founder Darleen Scherer has been roasting, packaging and brewing coffee right in Brooklyn since 2002. / Credit: GorillaCoffee.com

Darleen Scherer founded Gorilla Coffee in 2002 with the goal of "bringing great coffee to the people of New York City." In a little more than 10 years, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based shop has roasted and brewed countless cups of high-quality coffee, and is about to open its second location.

When Darleen Scherer was laid off from her marketing job in 2001, she knew it was time to take the leap into entrepreneurship. Working as a waitress until she could make her dream a reality, Scherer built her company from the ground up in 2002 and began roasting and selling coffee by the cup and by the package in a small Brooklyn, N.Y., shop called Gorilla Coffee.

While she's gained a lot of knowledge about coffee in her 11 years in business, Scherer knows she's never done learning: Dedicating the time to hone her craft has helped tremendously in her success. Scherer shared her journey to entrepreneurship and becoming a "part of New York's rich tradition of service and culinary achievement."

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BusinessNewsDaily:What did you want to be when you grew up?

Darleen Scherer: I never knew when I was young that I wanted to be any particular profession. I always loved making art: painting, pastels, drawing, cutouts, pottery, sewing. My mother was an artist who filled our home with her paintings and pottery. Being born during the Great Depression, she also was very practical with what she made. Much of it was out of necessity (or really just to save money). She would reupholster a worn-in chair or make me a skirt for school, or a carrying case for my pens and pencils. This philosophy has definitely shaped who I am today. I have chosen a profession where I get to make something every day, and it is something that takes artistic skill and constant improvement. I am lucky that it is something that other people appreciate and are willing to spend a few dollars for it.

BusinessNewsDaily: Can you talk a little about Gorilla Coffee and how you got your start?

DS: I started my business a little bit out of necessity. I had been living in New York since 1994, working in advertising and then Internet marketing. In 2001, I was laid off from my job. I had a growing desire to open up a retail business, and this propelled me to sit down, write a business plan for a coffee shop and pursue an SBA loan. I got a job as a waitress while I fleshed out how this business would work, how it would be unique and how it would be healthy and grow, even in a struggling economy. This forced the shape of the business: coffee roasting on premises with an avenue for wholesaling coffee within New York City. 

BusinessNewsDaily: What was your main motivation to start your business?

DS: To have a little more control over my own destiny. I was laid off when the Internet market crashed, and I wanted to get back to basics: make something and sell it the same day. I wanted to be able to create something that had a value, to many people, in any kind of market. Coffee matters to so many people, as it does to me.

BusinessNewsDaily: What's the best part of owning your own business?

DS: The best part is being able to create and hone your craft. Every day, I learn something new about coffee: a new varietal, a new technique at a mill, a new piece of equipment or playing with a brew variable. That's the part we love and really try to spend some dedicated time each day to this. It's easy to get caught up in the operations of everything, but it's this constant learning and improving that drives us.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the managing editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.

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