Sixteen Candles. Amazing. And the truth of the matter is, we wouldn’t be here without each of you. Cultivating stories, strengthening community, and amplifying really great coffee. Justin and I wanted to take a moment to share a little bit about the story of OZO, especially for those who may not know.
Justin fell in love with Specialty Coffee during his short stint in Arizona. He moved out there after graduating from high school to study Computer Science (imagine a mountain loving boy living in the desert), needless to say Arizona opened up his eyes to the world of coffee. He worked at several different cafes, the first being Gold Bar Espresso. The owner of Gold Bar was passionate about coffee and business. He was very influential in helping Justin in understanding that specialty coffee could be a pathway for a lifelong career. In 1996, Justin decided to move closer to his family here in Colorado and helped open E-Steamers Coffeehouse in Aurora, Colorado and that is where we met (August 1997).
During those formative years, the Specialty Coffee industry was shifting and growing, Justin’s love for the coffee process was deepening, and he could sense a lifelong passion developing.
Fast forward to 1999, the year we decided to move to Boulder together and what Justin discovered was a whole new level of craft coffee “brewing”. He spent several years supporting the growth of Vic’s Espresso and at the forefront of his mind saying… One day I want to start my own coffee company. The seed was planted.
I will never forget that fateful day in April 2006. Justin said, “Bek, my dream location is available for lease. Now is the time!” From there it was a bit of a whirlwind… Creating a Business Plan, taking a second mortgage on our townhouse, and asking his Grandparents for a small loan. We didn’t have much money, but our passion to build a community gathering space centered around great coffee was our fuel. Our plan was to OPEN our doors sometime in December of 2006, but with permits and build-out, we didn’t receive final approval until the afternoon of February 13th, 2007. Our first official day at 5340 Arapahoe Avenue was February 14th and our very first customer was Bob Simmons. Now a quick side note – February 14th has become one of those auspicious days in our relationship. We legally married on February 14th, 2000, and our West Pearl location opened on February 14th, 2011. So much to celebrate!
Why OZO? What does it mean? The question most people ask.
OZO comes from the spanish word OSO (bear). Bear was a word that Justin used as a nickname for me (Beka Bear), our son Jeremiah (Jer Bear) and our daughter (Lani bear). We felt that OSO was a bit harder to pronounce, so we changed the S to a Z, and OZO Coffee was officially born. Sharing our story with the world has clearly been lacking, yet we are compelled to change that narrative and we have set the goal to write our stories out, encouraging each of you to participate and share your stories with us.
We are grateful for all of the passionate coffee professionals that have been part of our story these past 16 years, each of you bringing your own unique style and passion to our community. We also want to thank each and every one of you (our community members, partners, farmers) that continue to pulse and drive our mission: to support and connect diverse communities through coffee- from seed to cup. This is our year of amplifying our voice, strengthening our community (locally and globally through continued donations, give back days especially for projects that support strengthening communities), and continuing to do our best to lessen our environmental impact – it is through those small changes, like bringing your own cup and participating in our refillable canister program, that we can make a difference.