VIGILANTE FOUNDER STARTS OFF IN HAWAII
It was in Hawaii where our founder got his start; where he likes to say “the epiphany” happened: to pursue happiness over the almighty dollar. This was fundamental in his development of a passion for coffee. His first hands-on job in coffee was as a barista at a small coffee shop in downtown Honolulu. There, he learned to roast coffee, the art of serving coffee, and to appreciate coffee from seed to cup. Working directly with small coffee farmers both in Oahu & the Big Island, Chris, our founder, got a personal, in-depth understanding of specialty coffee.
STARTING OFF IN DC
Knowing his fellow East Coasters would appreciate these world-class coffees, he came back to the East Coast to get started on his dream of owning his own roastery and café. Arriving in Washington DC with a dream, a used 1994 4runner with over 300,000 miles on it, and a small investment from a surf/marijuana mogul buddy, Chris had just enough to get a used 5-pound roaster and launch the business from his back porch in Northeast DC in 2012.
Farmers Markets, Pop-Ups and Selling beans to local businesses all while roasting from a basement in Trinidad, DC. In 2012, Chris met Ashley at a coffee bar where he was working part-time. After a year of helping Chris with various aspects of the business, Ashley came on board full time as a part-owner in the company. She brought her business acumen, professionalism, design, and style to Vigilante Coffee. As Chris likes to say, “when Ashley officially joined the company, that’s when Vigilante Coffee became official.” It was around this same time that Harold came into the picture, the defacto Vigilante doggy. Harold is a labradoodle and has been roasting alongside Chris since the early days of Vigilante Coffee. Harold brings joy to customers and company employees. We strive to be the company Harold views us as.
So there we were, literally building a company from the basement up and learning as we went. We faced our fair share of hardships during that time, including having two delivery vans stolen (old hand me downs from family - but hey, they got us to and fro!). However, we persevered, and eventually, business was growing and operations were expanding, so much so that one day the fire department axed down the door to the house where we roasted. When there’s that much smoke billowing out of a row house, someone’s eventually going to call the fire department. We felt this was a sign that it was time to move, leading us to Hyattsville, MD right over the DC border.