We had the good fortune of connecting with James Senteno and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I wanted to make coffee and I wanted to do it in a way that I thought made sense to me, in a way that felt right and good. I was tired of seeing businesses make decisions based solely on the bottom line, at the cost of customers and employees, and at the cost of my coffee and my artistry. Coffee deserves care and attention. I wanted to start a place of my own, completely willing to eat cost for the sake of doing something that I think is good and worth while. That was my motivation.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Ambient Bean is a mobile pop up coffee shop serving a full menu of specialty coffee drinks and Italian style sodas at a variety of events. Our coffee company is still small and growing, which allows us to have full control over all the details that make our coffee great. Aside from the high quality of our espresso, we also just get to have fun every day. We can experiment with new recipes, serve creative drinks, connect with our customers one-on-one, and we get to set up our shop in fun places and share in the excitement – whether it be a farmer’s market, football game, lavender festival, car show – we’re just happy to be a part of the event!
Starting a business is never easy, but this felt like the next step as an evolution of my career as a barista. I love making coffee and this is a way for me to continue doing what I love, the way I love to do it. I learned the best way to start a business is to just start. And don’t stop. I spent a long time doing research before finally realizing that all the research in the world wasn’t going to make up for taking a real first step. Once you’re moving, you gain momentum.
I want to create an atmosphere where people feel welcome and know that they’re going to be getting a great cup of coffee. I love people and I want everyone, whether they go to Starbucks or local and small batch roasters, to feel like they belong in our shop. Because they do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d start our visit with an early morning climb at VITAL Climbing Gym, followed by a stop for fresh scones at The Crafted Scone in Murrieta. There are a lot of really great food spots in Temecula and Murrieta, so I might take my friend to Goat and Vine for lunch one day. If they’re feeling brave, we could book a jump at Skydiving Elsinore and then chill out at Never Better Frozen Yogurt. We would end the week by checking out the Old Town Temecula Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We were overwhelmed with support from all sides since the beginning. My fiancé and co-founder Kali is really the one who kept me going and made Ambient Bean a reality. Genuinely, without her belief and support I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this. My parents have also been there whenever and wherever we’ve needed help; not only allowing us to use their truck and their home as our base of operations, but my dad literally built us a coffee cart on a moment’s notice when our table broke and he continues to be very involved. Angie is a friend of ours who has easily been our biggest cheerleader. The amount of work that she’s put in just to help us succeed is absolutely unreal. Colette is another friend, and former co-worker of mine, who has been helping us since our first day in business. She was there at the Old Town Temecula Farmer’s Market to show support, but when we needed a hand, she jumped right in to help make coffee, no hesitation. To be blessed with friends like this is something else, really.
Honestly, it’s a really long list. Our roaster Remzi Kaval at Coffee N Talk, our friends Yoann & Charlotte at Le Coffee Shop, Gerry & Jay at 60 Grit Studios, Nicole & Frank at Dunamix Dance Project, and the small business community as a whole are all so welcoming and helpful.