We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Kohlenberg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
For a long season I was on a hunt for a simple, but good, cup of coffee. I never was a Starbucks fan and I was just looking for something consistent and tasty. At least twice a week I would try new coffee shops searching for this thing that shouldn’t have been so hard to attain. While of course I found good cups of coffee, eventually, I realized this wasn’t sustainable. My brother in law had actually tried his hand at roasting coffee beans with a friend of his up in San Luis Obispo. When he moved to San Diego we knew this was our shot. We decided to see if we could roast our own beans and create that perfect cup of coffee- and to us, this is it. Lance, my brother in law, is a Veteran who has always wanted to create a business that supports and honors those who have served and we feel that Canteen Coffee has done exactly that. While we are still new to the coffee business, we have been able to provide consumers with coffee that is equitably sourced without sacrificing the taste. We are a coffee company for people who love coffee.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Canteen Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee company in San Diego, CA. We care about people and quality coffee, roasting small batch coffee beans for retail and wholesale customers. We only source FarmGate™ beans ensuring not only extreme quality but that our farmers are getting paid 50-100%+ over Fair Trade pricing. We make sure that we have quality beans that you can taste and feel good about. We are a family owned and operated company consisting of Mark & Tori, and Lance & Laurie. And if we haven’t already confused you with the rhyming names, Mark and Laurie happen to be brother and sister. Mark and Lance head up roasting and operations while Laurie and Tori keep everything together, running our social media and creating our merchandise, as well as taking care of our youngest members of the family, Scout and Finn. We all currently have day jobs. Mark is a mechanical engineer for Northrop Grumman and Lance works for CalVet assisting his fellow veterans at the State and local levels. Both Laurie and Tori are educators teaching at local elementary schools. While our coffee company is only a year old, we feel that this has bene one of our favorite adventures in our professional career. No, this has not been the easiest- starting a business and then having a global pandemic hit definitely puts a damper on your business plans. However, we have been able to find new ways to provide people with coffee and really hone in our roasting. Our goal for our coffee business has always been to just provide people with a quality cup of coffee. Simple and delicious,
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As a San Diego native, I feel like I should have some super unique spaces to take someone, but I am pretty simple. If someone wanted to surf I would have them join me at Blacks Beach for some waves. I, as most San Diegans, enjoy a good fish taco so a stop at Oscars would definitely happen, as well as some beer from Alesmith Brewing. Some of my favorite things to do as a family would be walk down Liberty Station and grab some sliders from Soda and Swine and walk around the water.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My business partner, and brother in law, Lance Iunker definitely deserves this shoutout. Without his drive and passion, we would have never created this company in the first place. He has given so much to his country and we are just grateful for all he is has done with his life and how he still finds time to embark on exciting new adventures such as our coffee business.