Local Startup Coffee Company Grinds To Open First Storefront

Z Beans Coffee, a local startup coffee company formed by recent Mercer University graduates, finalized plans to open its first coffee shop with help from Macon, Ga.-based Central Piedmont Investment Group, Mercer University, and other faithful investors.

“We’re grateful for this opportunity to grow our business and to continue spreading our story throughout the local community” says Z Beans Founder, Shane Buerster. He also thanks the angel investor group, Central Piedmont Investment Group (CPIG), for believing in the Z Beans vision of creating sustainability in the lives of Ecuadorian coffee farmers, while also providing quality coffee for the Macon community.

Bob Easter, the managing director of CPIG, said the investment holds true to the company’s reputation of supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in Central Georgia. “We are excited for the opportunity to support these recent graduates from Mercer, so they can continue growing upon the foundation which they have worked hard to build,” Easter said. “These are the types of investments that will benefit the Macon and Middle Georgia community in the long-run.”

Z Beans was founded by Shane Buerster in 2017 after a Mercer On Mission trip to Zaruma, Ecuador, in July of that year. A trip originally planned solely to earn credits towards graduation soon changed the path for the young entrepreneur. While researching whether coffee would be a sustainable economic solution to an area where the leading economic driver, gold mining, was slowly depleting, Shane formed a strong relationship with a 65-year old Zarumian native, Arturo Peñaretta, who had over 50 years of experience in the coffee industry. Arturo would not only become a friend but a mentor as well.

Once Shane returned to the States, the two stayed in contact, and Shane continued practicing his Spanish with Arturo as his teacher. As the friendship brewed, Arturo pitched the idea of selling Ecuadorian coffee in the United States. Shane, seeing the opportunity facing him, agreed to the idea and the first shipment of 65-pounds would arrive soon thereafter.

Working out of the Mercer Innovation Center (MIC), the campus’ incubator for aspiring entrepreneurs and startup companies, Shane began roasting 11-ounces at a time for family and friends to try. Receiving tremendous reviews, the coffee was well-received by those who tried it, prompting Shane to import 300 pounds. Come August 2017, that order had grown to 4,000 pounds and in July 2018 it became 14,000 pounds.

“The MIC is thrilled about the growth of Z Beans from their company residency in 2017 to becoming one of the three fellows for this current year” said Stephanie Howard, director of the Mercer Innovation Center. “We look forward to supporting the growth of Z Beans, especially with their new retail expansion.”

The coffee shop is located in Mercer Village, 1635 Montpelier Ave, and is set to open Monday August 27 at 10:00 a.m. and will be offering $1 iced and drip coffee all day.