Santa Cruz SBDC

Three waves coffee

“I am really grateful for the SBDC as I have always been an inventor and having a board of professionals to talk to was comforting to make sure we were taking the steps into the right direction.”

All Client Stories

Married couple Nathan Crane and Julie Luster are now proud owners of Three Waves Coffee, an eco-friendly roasting coffee company in Santa Cruz. Although a hobby at first, Nathan and Julie fell in love with the process of home coffee roasting, which led them to take action toward starting their own business. The first step involved finding a co-roasting facility so as to ensure access to packaging and efficient roasting equipment that would enable them to scale up their production.

No sooner had they launched their online site than Three Waves Coffee began making several appearances in events like wine and music festivals, therefore gaining exposure. In December of 2022 they were invited by the Santa Cruz County Parks to become vendors at the Hook, where Nathan and Julie did a soft opening of their new coffee trailer, featuring high-quality coffee beans. 

Three Waves Coffee was born from Nathan and Julie’s strong desire to cultivate a meaningful connection to the products that they consume because sustainability starts at the source. For that reason, they make sure to source high-quality coffee from organic coffee growers whom they pay fair trade prices. To support their efforts for sustainability and social justice, a lot of research on product development went into designing the bags for their products to offer composable, biodegradable packaging. 

When Nathan and Julie signed up for services, they came across numerous webinars offered by the SBDC in an attempt to help our clients grow and support their businesses. From business planning to marketing and financing, they were able to profit from the expertise of our successful advisors who tailored each workshop’s content to the specific needs of their audience. Moreover, Benjamin Slade, a valuable member of our team, was very helpful by providing guidance in Human Resources to make sure that Nathan and Julie were meeting all the requirements to be able to grow their team.

As Three Waves Coffee gained popularity, Nathan and Julie became interested in applying for the Dream Fund Grant to expand their entrepreneurial activities. Along with SBDC advisor Keith Holtaway, who explained the nuances and details of the application process, they were able to successfully complete a reasonable amount of background work developing their business plan. Nathan and Julie received extensive assistance with the development of the use of funds and the preparation of the income statement so they would feel confident at the time of submitting their application.

As a result of their dedication, Nathan and Julie were approved for the Dream Fund for $5,000. This represents a unique opportunity as they can now get additional inventory and equipment, as well as invest in their marketing activities. Over the past year, Three Waves Coffee has seen significant steady growth in sales by 52% compared to last year. Additionally, Nathan and Julie have experienced an increase in their average order value of 10%  and an improvement in their online presence as the conversion on their website has gone up by 110%.

In the short term, they are looking forward to having a regular location at The Hook as a way to launch their business and gain visibility in the community. Ultimately their dream is to open up a coffee shop and have multiple locations around California.  Although they are just now getting started, Nathan and Julie have high hopes for their company to become a huge success. Three Waves Coffee is a testament to its owners’ vision to build a business that they themselves would support, which means leading by example and catering to people who share similar values.