Oxymoron Coffee: Why Two Friends Launched A Coffee Bean Company With An Unusual Name

Food & Drink

Two long-time friends in Newburgh and New Windsor in upstate New York, Franz Constancio and Tom Brown, bonded over their love of coffee and started researching coffee beans to launch their own business. But Constancio is an energy consultant and Brown, an assistant manager at Jiffy Lube in Kingston, so they launched their business part-time while keeping their day jobs.

So without any background in the industry, but having a passion for coffee, the two friends dug in and started doing their due diligence. They researched coffee beans from Honduras, Mexico, Ethiopia, Sumatra and Colombia. “These regions had good quality and were rich in inventory,” noted Constancio.

But what to name it? Constancio thought about his high school English teacher and a lesson she taught on oxymorons. He remembered it as an internal contradiction, like jumbo shrimp. Or maybe two friends with day jobs that launch a coffee business that might be considered an oxymoron too. And that’s what they named their business: Oxymoron Coffee.

“Most people get our name,” Constancio said, but then he added, “it’s awfully good coffee,” coining yet another oxymoron.

Finally after doing their background work, they established Oxymoron Coffee in 2022 and went live at oxymoroncoffee.com on March 14, 2023. So far, direct to consumer sales online is their dominant way of selling, though they’re not on Amazon.com yet.

Two friends, with full-time jobs, have launched an ecommerce coffee roasting company Oxymoron Coffee in upstate New York and are looking to add to their revenue streams.

It specializes in “artisanal style of coffee roasted on demand in micro batches to ensure the quality of the bean is intact,” said Constancio.

Sounding like a coffee maven, Constancio explained, “We specialize in Arabica beans, but we’re experimenting with different types including Robusta Beans.”

During their research, the duo contacted a slew of coffee purveyors such as The Captains Coffee in South Carolina, David Sargent Coffee in Michigan, who guided them along, and networked with several vendors at CoffeeFest at Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.

They strived to keep their start-up costs to a minimum and not incur any debt. Hence they split the legal and equipment fees in half, which cost them $4,000, a rather modest sum to launch a business.

Constancio said it’s not trying to compete with the behemoths like Starbucks, Intelligentisa and Peet’s Coffee, the three largest coffee roasters in the U.S. But Oxymoron Coffee could fill a niche, the duo believed.

“We have many people moving up from the city and there aren’t that many coffee roasters or places around. We counted four in a 20-mile radius in the Hudson Valley,” he said, while in a place like Seattle there are many more per city block.

To show how low-keyed Oxymoron Coffee is at its infancy, it is currently renting commercial kitchen space at the Knights of Columbus in Washingtonville, NY for a modest rent. Most Wednesdays and Sunday’s, given their tight schedules, they roast the beans.

Once they debuted, they spread the word out of their opening through social media via Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. And they’ve also connected via several civic groups such as Knights of Columbus, Rotary’s and Boy Scouts of America via old-fashioned networking.

Tom Brown is overseeing sales and Constancio operations. One effective use has been Brown’s distributing small samples of their coffee, about two or three ounces, through meeting people at his Jiffy Lube job and other networking get-togethers. About 80% of customers who tried the samples ordered coffee.

Many of the coffees sell for $13 a pound on their website including Colombian Supremo, Mexican Chiapas and Honduran Marcala. But shipping costs via U.S. Mail increase the price to closer to $25 or $26 a pound.

Currently, revenue is generated only online, but the two owners are in gear and reaching out to a variety of small cafes in the Hudson Valley to see if they can start selling to them, and after that, will target regional supermarkets, farmer’s markets and farms. Constancio also envisions1 investing in a mobile truck selling coffee as a first step to eventually opening a retail store.

In the next year, they expect to rent their own roasting space, and have Constancio devote more of his time to the business since he, unlike Brown, works from home.

What will it take to make Oxymoron Coffee a success? “It’s all about exposure,” Constancio said. “Once people taste it, they enjoy it.”

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