Kevin Lee pens an open letter to DOERS Coffee

It is with both great joy and great sorrow that I pen this open letter to everyone who is a part of DOERS Coffee. To my team, to the loyal (and disgruntled) supporters of the brand, and to the future followers who know little about our journey. The joy comes from a moment of clarity, where I’m able to process the wildly mixed emotions of building up this brand. The sorrow comes from the realization of the amazing opportunity in which was presented and the failure to fully support the brand’s endeavors.

Along with this open letter is an open invitation — an invitation to our supporters to be a part of the growing process, a part of our understanding and commitment in becoming better, and truly an integral part of how we can overcome.

From the get-go, we wanted to build a brand that really encompassed the spirit of DOING, the spirit that leads to action, the type of spirit that invokes drive and determination. Yet ironically, the events in the past couple of months have pulled and stretched our company in so many ways that outwardly we fell short of living up to our name and mission. Many believe us to be charlatans claiming that we are DOERS, capable of much, and yet [we] cannot even ship out something as simple as coffee. [Rightfully so if we were shipping something as simple as coffee.] But we are trying to do something so much more. We are building a platform in which anyone could custom roast their coffees just the way they want it (and package it anyway they want too). This endeavor has led us down many, many rabbit holes, and chasing those rabbit holes has put a lot of unnecessary strain on our company.

One could argue that we fell victim of being overly ambitious, unwise in our decisions in trying to become a company that “can do it all”, and investing into things that should have been implemented in stages of our company’s lifecycle (rather than all at the beginning). We have made many mistakes. And [those mistakes] have set back our company’s timeline and resources in delivering the promised Kickstarter rewards.

The saying, “when it rains, it pours” is truly an understatement in which to describe our operations. Appropriate is the comparison to Hurricane Matthews’ growth in destructive power and reach. What seemingly was thought to be easy became extremely difficult, leaving us in situations that had no easy answers. To name a few, in just 6 months we have gone through (5) sealing machines and (2) sample roasters, all very expensive and all that have broken down. Our continued investments in repairing or replacing the machines took [months] to overcome. Another is our unwise and uncoordinated thinking in launching three product lines at the same time. We took on mastering roasting coffee, creating Nespresso capsules, and launching Keurig K-Cups while never effectively or efficiently being able to deliver on any. Our original roasting setup couldn’t or wasn’t ever prepared to take on real volume, and we met that early on with our launch on Amazon and Jet. We made many mistakes.

The turn of unfortunate events seemed to happen all at once and never ending. Our problems looked to be like the head of a Hydra, cut one head and another grows in its place. Just when we felt like we weathered the storm, [it] only came back to haunt us all over again either through another breakage, delay in supplies, or shortage of funds. All throughout this time, I failed to update our supporters on the progress of our company. I was a coward. In the delayed timeline, I felt the pressure to deliver and I dare not disappoint further by stating what’s really going on. I realized what a coward I was. I have made many mistakes.

My apologies go out to many, far and close in the spectrum of support. We have dear friends and family who have supported our endeavor, all who have taken a backseat in getting their rewards. Although we have shipped more than 1/3 of our orders (the equivalent of about 200 lbs of custom coffee), we have 2/3 more to go. The number of backers who have received their coffees is continuing to grow, but outpacing the number is the level of frustration spoken loudly from those who have not received their coffee (and goods.) I have worn thin the patience of the very people who believed in this company and have funded us to get a start. That disappointment eats at me alive every day, and the pressure to deliver is resoundingly felt every minute that goes by. But in the heap of the mess I have created, [we] still feel joy in delivering package after package. All due to the continued support of our backers.

Although we are slow in responding, we read your comments, emails, and replies. For those that have expressed extreme frustration and anger, it warms us when you send us happy feedback after receiving and tasting your coffee. For those that read this letter without having received your coffee, we feel your frustration ten fold. Your coffee is coming.

You, our backers, mean everything to us. We are undeserving of your continued patience, but we are more than committed and continuing to custom roast and ship coffee daily. We have made many mistakes, but through it all we pen this open letter inviting you to be a part of what it really means to be a DOER.

I humbly ask that you believe in us once again.

With love and determination,
-Kevin Lee