The Lagunas Coffee story began in 2015. It is a tale of new beginnings, finding purpose, following a dream, and making really great coffee. Founder Michael Kirkpatrick had just finished a period of personal struggles in his life and career, Michael returned home understanding that he needed a drastic change in his life. He was searching for new beginnings and a sense of purpose, as well as a fitter, healthier lifestyle. Having been a soda drinker most of his life, he had never given much attention to coffee. However, when he began to eliminate sugar, alcohol, and other unhealthy habits, he was introduced to coffee, and his interest began to grow.
He found himself drawn to understanding the different nuances of coffee, learning about how it was grown, how it was roasted, and how it should be prepared. Conversations began to revolve around the subject, and he found a passion rising from the darkness. When he returned home, he was fully engaged and sought out how he could start roasting his own. He had hopes that doing so would allow him to further explore the mysterious “notes” he had been discovering. He researched different roasting companies, roasting profiles, and coffees in search of the best quality coffee he could find and roast.
Michael had always been a bit of an entrepreneur, and the idea began to take root that perhaps his love of coffee could provide him with a purpose, something he was desperately seeking. He began to dream about how he could turn his passion for tasting coffee into a viable business. However, gaining the knowledge and experience needed to roast and sell specialty coffee was a major undertaking that would take time and patience. But the seeds were planted, and his vision began to form. He continued to study, roast, and test coffees in preparation for his company, but it would take four more years before the dream would come to fruition.
He worked during those years, first remodeling his own home, and then flipping other homes as a business venture. After renovating four or five residences in Denver, CO, he realized that building new homes was the natural progression of the industry, but it became clear that the market was not conducive to his new venture at the time.
COVID happened, and many people including Michael began to look outside of their bubbles and seek new change. Michael believed that there would be many people with means who would be seeking to move to warmer climates, outside of the United States. It was a big gamble, but he found affordable land in Costa Rica and was able to use the profit from his houses to begin constructing vacation homes. The gamble paid off. However, being in Costa Rica, his coffee passion was still alive and well, and he sought out coffee farmers, believing it was something to fall back on. In time, the vision of selling exceptional Costa Rican coffee in the United States became clearer and clearer. He met two wonderful farmers, including one high in the mountainous Tarrazzu region.
The dream started to morph into reality, and with his background in Environmental Science, he began to ask himself, how can he make this place better for the future. However, his dream of coffee posed a challenge in answering that. Soil erosion, water usage, contamination, and waste are all serious concerns in the industry. In addition, one must consider political concerns, labor laws, farmer pay, and pollution concerns. How could he push forward with his dream when it seemingly contradicted his purpose? He realized that if he was going to roast coffee, he needed to foster genuine change, not simply satisfy greed. He believed that to be a better person, and a better steward of this earth, one needed to be fully open to doing things a little differently. For Michael, the coffee industry is no different. A student of Classic Stoicism, he embraces its focus on change, and how it is inevitable and should be welcomed. To quote Marcus Aurelius, “Is any man afraid of change? Why? What can take place without change?” Michael believed in his heart that if the focus was solely on capital, then leave it to the large importers and exporters with cheap products and cheap labor. He decided that he would forge on, but he would change a few things along the way.
Doing Things Differently
The Laguna’s mission is a little different. We believe in offering extremely high-quality products that are laser-focused on environmental consciousness, fair labor wages, job opportunities, and a platform for change. At Lagunas, we source only Certified Coffee, which includes Organic, Fair Trade, and Rainforest Alliance, as well as many other certifications. We may not be the cheapest specialty coffee, but when you buy from Lagunas, you know you are investing in making a positive change in the coffee industry, and the world. Along with using only fully compostable packaging, we roast in small batches that will be elevated in terms of quality and processing. We are intentional about supporting causes that improve the environment and people’s lives. These include Conservation Colorado and the Colorado PGA Reach Foundation. As Lagunas pushes forward, it will continue to seek innovation and ways to benefit the world. We invite you to try our coffee and experience what quality specialty coffee should taste like and give yourself a pat on the back while doing it.