Today we’d like to introduce you to Kat Melheim.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started Coffee People Zine in 2018 as a platform for coffee people to connect over the not-coffee things they’re into. So many baristas are artists, roasters are musicians, and coffee people are creatives in general. I wanted to open a space for conversation and connection at the intersection of coffee and art. So I started a print zine!
The first issue featured work by my friends and people in my local coffee community (I lived in Denver at the time), but that has expanded over the last five years. Through word of mouth, over Instagram, and via my travels to coffee shops and industry events, the zine is now 100 pages of submission-based artwork by people all over the world!
Right now, I’m working on ways to make Coffee People even better, including paying artists, featuring small shops doing good things, and finding wider distribution to reach a larger audience.
While Coffee People Zine is still a small niche publication, it is my passion project, and it has allowed me to cultivate relationships with brilliant coffee people around the world.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Creating Coffee People Zine has not been an easy ride. When I started the publication, I didn’t intend to start a business so I wasn’t thinking about the financial aspect. In fact, the first issue I put out was just for fun. I paid for it out of pocket with a few hundred dollars’ help from friends and local (Denver) shops.
However, the zine was received really well by the coffee community, which was awesome! The downside was that it soon required more and more of my free time while I was still working full-time. For the first few years, I didn’t have much of a life outside work and the zine, but it didn’t matter.
I was creating something that I loved, and that the coffee community seemed to love, and that was good enough for me. A few years into this project though, the time commitment became too much. I decided to shift my focus on the zine and see if I could grow it into a bonafide business that could sustain me financially. In October of 2019, I quit my day job.
The zine wasn’t bringing in enough money to support me fully, but I had built momentum and it seemed reasonable that the zine would be financially sustainable within a few months. Unfortunately, we all know what happened in early 2020. With COVID, all the companies and shops that had been supporting the zine no longer had the capacity because they were all just trying to survive as well.
My sponsorships dried up overnight. My sales (especially subscriptions for coffee shops) plummeted. Instead of quitting the zine and getting a job, I decided to move home with my parents (in Minnesota) so I could continue publishing Coffee People while “waiting out” the pandemic. I stayed there until November of 2021 when I moved here to North Carolina.
I am still recovering from the COVID-19 hit, as are so many other coffee companies, but things are looking up. Right now I have a part-time job to pay for my living expenses so I can continue to publish Coffee People in my free time. It’s still a big-time commitment, but I am finding a balance between work and play, growth and rest.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a writer, artist, barista, roaster, and all-around coffee person.
My publication, Coffee People Zine, is an award-winning zine that celebrates the creativity of the coffee community. I’m also a roaster at Black & White Coffee Roasters.
What matters most to you?
Connecting with other people is the most important thing to me. I believe that people are social creatures and that we cannot thrive on our own.
Being in a relationship with others, seeing and being seen, and finding the common pieces that make us who we are – these are the most beautiful things, the most meaningful things we can do.
- $14.25 for a Coffee People Zine subscription.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.coffeepeople.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/coffeepeoplezine/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVY9i3lgTlPIDsvkybOkfMQ