One of two new members to the CVB board of directors is Lisa Schwartz, owner of Gold Country Coffee Roasters in Murphys. If you love great coffee, you’ve probably made a visit or two to Gold Country or picked some up in the local supermarket. We asked Lisa for some more details about her niche in the coffee world.
Describe your business or line of work – such as how long you’ve been doing it, and what your interests are that got you into your profession.
I got into this business in a rather unplanned, random way – I had lost my job during the recession and I was looking around for something to do. At the time, all I knew about coffee was “I like to drink it!” but I thought it would be a fun business to be in, so decided on a whim to buy the business along with (my former) business partner and set about learning everything I could about the world of coffee and coffee roasting.
I have owned the business for a little over three years. We roast all our coffee onsite, for both wholesale and retail sale – we supply many local restaurants, hotels and B&B’s, and markets – and also sell our fresh roasted coffee in our retail café and shop. The café is open 7 days a week, serving coffee and specialty espresso drinks, tea and chai, fruit smoothies, Italian sodas and more, as well as and fresh, locally made pastries. We also carry many coffee related retail and gift items such as insulated travel mugs, brewing equipment, storage containers, and hand crafted coffee mugs by various local artists.
The business had been a long established fixture in Murphys before Schwartz took it over, but in the three years since she says it has grown exponentially. She estimates her customers are about a 50/50 percent split between locals and tourists, and what began as a staff of just two has now become a crew of 10 employees, plus her coffee roaster, Tonja Peterson. Lisa highlighted some of the things that have set her business apart and ensured its quick success, among them is a dedication to consistency and quality, not only with the beans they roast and drinks they make, but also in the customer service they provide.
She has also placed a big emphasis on sustainability, sourcing beans that are certified shade grown and fair trade, and recycling everything from the cups to the spent coffee grounds, which are collected and used as fertilizer by local gardeners. Gold Country is currently the only coffee roaster in California recognized by the Smithsonian Institution’s bird conservation program for helping support migratory bird conservation in coffee growing regions.
What drew you to Calaveras County and what are your favorite things about the area?
My husband and I relocated here from Los Angeles in 1988, so that he could pursue a professional business opportunity. At the time, I had never even heard of Calaveras County, and was very much a city-person, but I have come to love the slower pace, the ready access to the outdoors, the wide variety of recreational opportunities available, and the small town friendliness. I also love the fact that there are only three traffic lights in the entire county! A far cry from LA!
What inspired you to become a board member and what do you hope to accomplish while on the board?
I have been involved with the CVB off and on for many years, including sitting on the Board back in the 1990’s when I was working for the Forest Service, and then later helping to develop marketing materials for the CVB, including the Visitor’s Guide, when I was a self-employed marketing consultant. Now, as the owner of a heavily tourism-dependent small business here in Murphys, I can appreciate the importance of tourism to the local economy. I hope to bring that perspective to the Board, and encourage other small businesses to join and support the CVB.
Anything relevant you’d like to add about the county, it’s tourism industry, what you think is going well or what could be done better?
The local economy is heavily dependent upon tourism, and I think the CVB does a fantastic job, within the constraints of its very limited budget, of promoting the County and bringing in visitors from around the world.