COURTESY OF KYLE O'MALLEY
Two years ago, Kyle O’Malley and Grant Schoenlein decided to quit their stable jobs and start working on their dream of creating a premium coffee company in Moscow.
Both O’Malley and Schoenlein graduated from WSU and are two of just a handful of WSU alumni that started their own coffee roast business on the west coast, O’Malley said.
O’Malley graduated from WSU in 2017 and double majored in finance and entrepreneurship. Schoenlein, on the other hand, majored in finance.
O’Malley said he wanted to start his own coffee business since he was a teenager. When the opportunity arose to start Kamiak Coffee Company with his best friend, he jumped on it.
“I fell in love with the romance of it all, seeing burlap bags from Kenya, Ethiopia, Colombia, all over the world, seeing the equipment, the smells, the sounds, the sights — all of it. I instantly wanted to know all I could,” O’Malley said.
The coffee company is located in Moscow because the owners loved the area, and it was financially a practical place to start a business compared to bigger cities, he said.
“I’ve never seen two communities like Pullman and Moscow that are so local,” O’Malley said. “They are very unique. They care about businesses.”
Kamiak Coffee Company sells its coffee nationally online and in local community businesses, like the Moscow Food Co-op and Café Artista.
“We are very particular about the coffee we serve,” said Bev Bafus, co-owner of Café Artista. “Being able to say that we have something locally roasted is really important to people in Moscow.”
Café Artista exclusively brews Kamiak Coffee and sells their beans in the cafe. They have received positive responses about the product from customers, Bafus said.
Kamiak Coffee Company holds itself to a high standard when it comes to their product. Online orders are roasted and shipped on the same day they are ordered to ensure the product is fresh, O’Malley said.
In the future, the company hopes to hire more WSU alumni and continue to grow. Their goal is to expand past the Palouse and serve more of the west coat, O’Malley said.
“We thought it was important to prove to young students that have graduated that they can live and work here and have an incredible quality of life,” he said. “If you want to start a business, this is the place to be.”
Kamiak Coffee Company has a variety of coffee options on its website and they offer a subscription service for its customers. They also have a brew guide on their website to educate customers on the best way to make their coffee at home.
“I lately have been drinking our Grand Teton blend,” O’Malley said. “It’s our darkest roast. It’s an all-organic blend from two very special farms very near and dear to my heart that we source from in Peru and Costa Rica.”