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Small Business: HEX Coffee is capitalizing on the Charlotte coffee scene

Tanner Morita, 26; John Michael Cord, 27; and Chandler Wrenn, 27, are friends from their days in college. When they reconnected in Charlotte, they decided to capitalize on the growing coffee scene and open HEX Coffee – think “hexagon,” as in the strong architectural shape, not “hex,” as in the curse. They knew their different skill sets would be a good balance for running a coffee business.

In January 2015, they started developing a business plan and launched their first event in April. Since then, they try to have one public and one private event a month. Currently, HEX Coffee is only available at hosted public events.

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Cord talks about starting a business in Charlotte for C5’s Entrepreneur Series:

Why is Charlotte a good place to start a business?

The food and drink culture has really blossomed over the past five years (in Charlotte) and has been a breeding ground for people to experiment and try new things. Tanner and I used to work for Not Just Coffee and James has, in a lot of ways, pioneered what third wave coffee would look like for Charlotte. Cafes are starting to be more coffee-focused, by building relationships with the farms their coffee is coming from.

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Who has been your biggest influence?

The three people I have worked for in the coffee industry in the past few years: Jimmy Kleto at Central Coffee, James Yoder at Not Just Coffee and Lindsey Pittman over at The Daily Press. In the process of working for them, I really learned all different facets of the business and the coffee industry.

It has been mind blowing to see what they each can do in their own unique way. That has really shaped my drive and my passion, and to think, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ You can see it in their customer base. They have totally created a community around coffee and that’s something you need to have when you start a business. You want a place that people want to come to after work.

How do you begin each day?

Right now, without fail, I brew a cup of coffee at home. It is necessary.

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What do you see in your future?

In the immediate future, we’ve been focusing on opening a café that is intelligent and inspiring. Eventually down the road we would like to have a few of these cafés and possibly a roastery. That’s something that I would love to start doing.

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Where do you go in Charlotte when you need to chill?

I go to Good Bottle. It is an incredible bottle shop and tap room in South End. It is right down the street from where I live and so usually when I get off from work a couple of times a week, I will stop in there. I grab a pint and unwind before I go home. The owners are incredible and I have gotten to know them as friends.

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HEX Coffee will have a pop-up event on the morning of Saturday, March 26 at the Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop. Watch their Facebook page for details.

Photos: HEX Coffee

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