Kyle Tabor started Blue Sail Coffee Roasters in 2014.
If a user jumps onto the business’s website, this is the first statement someone reads:
“Life is too short for boring coffee.”
According to the site, in the summer of 2013, Tabor went on a backpacking trip through Italy, ultimately going through a life-changing experience.
The plan was to go to Italy to watch competitive, professional cycling, but what he has said he remembers from that time, is the impact of those around him.
“What he remembers the most was the community that he found living inside of the Italian café,” the about us section reads. “Inside (...) people of different gender, religion, age, sex, political background (...) all hangout in one space.”
Evidently, that inspired Tabor, ultimately committing to bringing that to his own hometown, Conway.
When he returned, he began work on his business plan and after graduating with a business degree from the University of Central Arkansas, began working toward his dream.
“(Tabor) used a dinky(,) little espresso machine, a credit card, and determination to open his first cafe in downtown Conway,” the section states. “For the first three months, Kyle pioneered the company sleeping on a cot in a storage room. Fortunately, the community supported his hard work and vision, and Blue Sail has grown ever since.”
Since, he’s opened two successful locations, equipping both with employees and vision, and has a roastery.
The late-20s aged owner was even named to 2015’s “20 In Their 20s” list created by Arkansas Business to showcase young business leaders across the state.
Recently, it was also announced that Blue Sail had entered into a national partnership with Bespoke Post, a men’s subscription box that ships more than 70,000 boxes per month.
The local coffee roaster will be featured for the first time in the Oct. 1 subscription box, which Justin Phillips, Blue Sail Coffee’s director of wholesale relations, said is Bespoke Post’s highest performing subscription – “highlighting the first third-wave coffee shop in Conway” – with around 7,000 bags of coffee shipped around the nation.
Phillips said Blue Sail Coffee will also be featured in a customized box through Bespoke Post, set to launch later this year.
“National exposure like this can exponentially accelerate the growth of a small business overnight, especially when partnering with such an amazing company as Bespoke Post,” Phillips said. “We are really excited about the future, launching our product nationally, and looking forward to where this will take us.”
When Tabor – who graduated with a degree in marketing from the University of Central Arkansas – originally opened that first Blue Sail Coffee location in downtown Conway, he did so with a mission to use the beverage as a way to connect the community, adding “industry-leading” technology and other professional techniques along the way to roast and brew their own specialty coffee.
As the business continues to grow, so the opportunities.
Tabor posted to his Facebook page on Aug. 7. In the message, the coffee shop owner told of a recent interaction he had.
“Feeling honored, grateful, and focused,” he wrote. “I had a blast and learned a ton working one-on-one for 3 days with industry superstar, Tracy Allen. Tracy is the former President of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and Europe, former owner of legendary, Zoka Coffee, the only (three)-time winner of the globally-recognized Super Taster award (–) his list of achievements and awards continues. He’s consulted for hundreds of coffee companies, some small like mine, some worth hundreds of millions. I can’t express how humbled and excited I am to have him in my corner.”
In the post, Tabor expressed how “bright” the future was for Blue Sail Coffee.
“Over the next three years, we will establish relationships with coffee farmers and build quality control practices that will make us a world class coffee company,” he said. “Thank you all to those who have supported me and helped me get this far!!”
Q: Do you remember your first cup of coffee?
Tabor: My grandma made me coffee before I can even remember.
Q: There’s a passion behind Blue Sail and the coffee made, what really drove you to open?
Tabor: Getting people together in one place and excited about coffee and its deliciousness drove me to open a coffee shop.
Q: Think back to the opening ... how has support for the business changed since day 1? How has it stayed the same?
Tabor: Day one, I was sleeping in the back of the shop. I had no employees and I financed everything on a credit card. Today, I have multiple shops and a roasting business. We supply coffee to businesses all over the nation. We’re very proud of the support we’ve had the whole way.
Q: How has your role changed with the company through the years?
Tabor: My role has changed from being on the front lines making coffee to being behind the scenes leading my team and creating vision.
Q: What about your perspective, your love for the business ... has any of that changed?
Tabor: My perspective has changed some. Now, I understand that importance of good leadership and how to run the business by core values.
Q: Looking back, did you ever think it would be what it is today, grown to what it has with two locations, a following, expansion and more?
Tabor: Yes. I’ve believed in this company’s growth from day one.
Q: Talk about the hard moments, difficult times and rewards you guys have gone through over the years. What does it really take to run a coffee shop?
Tabor: It was very hard when we lost a store – Blue Sail opened a location in Donaghey Hall at UCA, but closed its doors in Jan. 2018 just a little over a year since opening. We almost went bankrupt. Now that we’ve repaired ourselves, the vision is to grow the roasting business and that is going well.
Q: Besides being a coffee shop, what other programs – Blue Sail also just recently launched a consultation service to aid in areas of church hospitality through its coffee line – do you guys offer?
Tabor: We provide consulting for coffee shops, we’re equipment distributors for most major coffee equipment brands and we give really good high fives!
Q: What are your hopes/dreams/goals for the business moving forward?
Tabor: To become one of the elite coffee brands in the country recognized for quality and experience.
Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at email@example.com.