Brave Brands Spotlight: La Mulita Coffee
Sep 25, 2019
One of the things that brings the Stouthearted great joy is our quarterly Brave Brands giveaway. We are thrilled to announce our latest Brave Brands partnership (and our first local one!). Allow us to introduce you to Max Pruna, founder and owner of La Mulita Coffee in Rye, NH. We asked Max a few questions about his vision. Here you go…
How did you get your start?
I was born in the city of Medellin, Colombia, a place where coffee is introduced to everyone at an early age. My mom introduced me to “cafecito” (coffee with lots of milk and sugar) at age 6, and since then, I haven’t stopped drinking it, however now without milk or sugar 😉 Fast forward to 1999, I graduated from College, got married to my beautiful wife @andreapruna and we both moved to New Hampshire to pursue our dreams – a higher education in the US. We attended SNHU Graduate School, which then led us on to opportunities in the corporate world. My wife settled into a career she loved, yet I kept bouncing around trying to find what I was passionate about. Nonetheless, one thing remained the same, my love for Colombian coffee and my desire to someday start my own company.
During the recent financial crisis, I decided to step away from my corporate job to pursue real estate (another one of my passions) while continuing to learn about coffee on the side. In 2015 I got invited to Boston to learn more about George Howell and his amazing coffee story. He’s a legend in specialty coffee; his story opened my eyes to a new coffee world. After listening to his inspiring speech, he announced to the audience he had a freshly roasted Colombian specialty coffee from a farm called La Esmeralda for everyone to taste, but without any sugar or milk. I was expecting a bitter taste, to my surprise, the coffee tasted sweet and fruity, nothing like I had ever tasted before. Ever since, I’ve been going down the coffee ‘rabbit hole’, reading and learning everything about specialty coffee, taking roasting courses, visiting coffee farms in Colombia, attending the Specialty Coffee Association expo, along with various coffee festivals, where I’ve had the opportunity to connect with many coffee roasters, coffee shop owners, coffee fanatics and connoisseurs.
During the summer of 2016, I decided to take a first step into the coffee industry by launching an Instagram account called @roasterscraft. The goal was to promoting and connecting specialty coffee roasters and coffee farmers around the world and it has continued to grow; soon after I started selling coffee from the different roasters online through @roasterscraft. That experience allowed me to learn a ton about the industry, the coffee regions, the coffee varieties and more importantly to connect with coffee connoisseurs and coffee lovers. It also gave me the confidence to take a second step, start searching for a commercial space in Portsmouth, NH to launch my own Colombian coffee brand. I went through countless potential spaces, but after more than a year of not finding one that would comply with zoning regulation and not be outrageously expensive, I decided to start looking elsewhere. Then, one morning, while driving my kids to school, I noticed a “for lease” sign at 15 Sagamore Road in Rye (formerly a floor fashion business) and without even looking at the inside I knew that would be a perfect spot for La Mulita Coffee Roastery.
I started renovations in January 2019 and finally, after a going through a long process with the health and building department, I opened in September 2019!
What is your mission?
To help people discover the incredible flavors of Colombian specialty coffees, while ensuring farmers get paid fairly and equitably for producing quality coffees.
Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do not only because I like to make the customer’s day a little bit better by offering them a nice cup of coffee and great customer service, but also because I want people to learn why each coffee is unique, how hard producers work, and what impact coffee consumers can have on millions of people around the world just by buying coffee.
How have you evolved since the start?
When I first started, I thought I knew about coffee because I had grown up in Colombia, but as I started to venture into the specialty coffee rabbit hole, I quickly realized how small my scope on the topic was. After several years in the industry, I feel I’ve gained a lifetime of coffee knowledge, but I’ve also come to realize that it will be an ongoing learning journey that will never end, which makes it even more interesting.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I only like to plan in twelve months increments, so I see La Mulita Coffee as a recognizable coffee brand within the Seacoast community, and with a prevalent online subscription business nationwide.
What advice would you give to someone starting a mission-driven business?
Stay true to yourself and your values and things will fall in place as you work to grow your business, just make sure you give yourself enough time!
What are some of your favorite Brave Brands?
There are many brave brands that pique my interest, so I’ll highlight two that I currently love of which one is local:
The Drift Collective in Portsmouth is one of my favorites because they repair and recreate secondhand clothing, bringing new value to unwanted basics and forgotten vintage pieces reducing the amount of clothing that could potentially end up in landfills.
Leaf Shave is another one of my favorites because they have reinvented the razor, and made of it a quality tool that is plastic free, so people can use it for years, instead of using disposable plastic razor cartridges.
And don’t forget to check out Stout Heart’s Instagram to enter for your chance to win today!