We had the good fortune of connecting with James Reina and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Alvaro and I both suffer from anxiety. So in a year filled with new stresses, our relationship with coffee got a little bit complicated. Jitters, anxiety, and insomnia are all exacerbated by overconsumption of caffeine—which frankly we’re all guilty of. So with our combined industry experience (I opened my first café in 2015 and Alvaro started out at Starbucks Spain), we felt like the right people to spearhead what we’ve dubbed the 4th-wave coffee movement—coffee with functional health additives to make your day a little better.
Before starting Jibby Coffee, we were simply looking for a solution as consumers. We tried “super” coffee, mushroom coffee, and even cut out coffee entirely and switched to matcha tea for a bit. Frankly, none of the options gave us the same taste, ritual, and energy that coffee did. So, Alvaro and I sought out to reimagine a calmer coffee experience. CBD was the one additive that turned my morning cup of coffee from unstructured chaos to enlightened focus, and that’s how Jibby Coffee was born.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When we started, a lot of our first customers happened to be friends and family. We took pre-orders in November and, due to unplanned issues, we missed our Christmas launch, then our New Years launch, and finally delivered product in time for Valentine’s Day. To make up for that, we added a few extra touches like handwritten notes, stickers, and other goodies when we did deliver our coffee. To our surprise, we received just as much positive feedback from those touches as we did on the coffee itself. What had started as a crisis management solution in our early stage had become one of the core tenets of our business.
Since then, we have strived to treat all our customers as friends. I think that aspect of business is often lost. At the end of the day, we know customers have a million choices and we feel an immense amount of gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of someone’s day and, potentially, set the tempo for the rest of their day. Our favorite product of our efforts is not the craft coffee, or the incredible ingredients we’ve sourced, or even the packaging—it’s the difference we potentially made in what a customer can expect from a business. Can they trust us to be as sustainable as they might be? Can they trust us to be as thoughtful? And, in turn, can they start to expect other companies to do the same and demand a world of intentional, and impactful businesses? That’s what I hope people remember about us: effort and care.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My current favorite places to eat in Miami are Lung Yai, Red Rooster, Sanguich, Flour & Weirdoughs, Pho 79, Mr. Omakase, Lucali, and Kon Chau. If I wanted to grab a beer as well, I’d go to Barracuda, Stiltsville Fish Bar or, honestly, Red Rooster has great drinks. For bars, I’m a huge fan of Riverside and Monty’s but Miami really needs more outdoor bars. If I’m hanging out in the daytime, I’d go to the Crandon Park Beach, go on a Saturday to the Key Biscayne Farmers Market, and Sunday to the Pinecrest Farmers Market with a stop at Wayside Market. If I could just choose one place, though, I’d say more people needed to check out Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A huge shoutout to both of our parents, who have been inspirational as role models, small-business-owners, and coffee lovers.
When I was little, my mom roasted coffee beans in a small home roaster every Saturday—and our whole house would smell like coffee. As I got older, I helped her pick regions to buy our green beans from (Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Colombia were our favorites), and we experimented with different roast times and temperatures together. Coffee became a special ritual for me not just because it’s really, really tasty, but also because it reminds me of my mom. Not only is she a coffee-lover, but she’s a small business owner too, and she instilled that DIY attitude in me from a young age. She’s the reason I had the confidence and know-how to take a leap of faith and start Jibby Coffee.
Shoutout also to Venture for America—the fellowship that introduced Alvaro and I, and our unofficial entrepreneurship “school.” Lastly, a shoutout and huge thank you to The Golden Hog in Key Biscayne, which was the first retail account we landed, and the first to believe in us enough to give our fledgling business a first chance.