INVITO Coffee Roasters‘ story may have started like so many others – a pandemic pivot – but it was an entrepreneurial venture that had been a long time coming for founders Yaro and Heather Yasel. This duo already had demanding occupations – pilot and nurse – a young daughter, and soon there would be a baby brother on the way!
Together, they had already discussed launching a coffee company in the previous years. Still, Yaro being laid-off at the beginning of the pandemic was the catalyst to launch finally – he explained, “I had to decide to go all-in, 100% into coffee or not. So I made the decision to jump in with both feet!”
A Love Affair between Pilots and Coffee
As a commercial airline pilot, Yaro had a strong connection to coffee, and when the pandemic hit, he and Heather joined forces with his father in Costa Rica, and designed what an ethical coffee company would look like.
First of all, the brand itself would be zero-waste with only family-farmed organic fair-trade beans. It would be small batch-roasted locally, with the packaging being 100% compostable and biodegradable. Right from the inception, INVITO was always about the environment. With Yaro and Heather being passionate about sailing and supporting The Ocean Legacy Foundation, doing no harm was important before launching.
A Caffeinated Family Affair
INVITO is a family-owned and operated business that involves two generations of the Yasel family. Together they grow, harvest, and ship annually single-origin green beans to Vancouver from Costa Rica, roast every Wednesday and deliver Thursday’s so that all customers receive their beans within 24-hours, which for a coffee lover is appreciated!
Vancouver is a Coffee Lovers Paradise
2021 was a year of community-building and growth. It is no secret that Vancouver and the Lower Mainland is flush with coffee shops and aficionados, but to start from scratch with a philosophy of ‘do no harm’ from the planting of the seedlings in Costa Rica to the cup of the customer was a big ask from the Yasel’s – a family of three with a baby on the way! But as the brand began rolling out, it was clear that people’s values were aligned with what INVITO was offering.
The Support of Community
In 2021, Yaro’s dedication to the brand saw him attending a Farmer’s Market every single weekend of the summer, with Sundays added in the winter – a whopping 72 in a year – with an average of 100 customers per day. Non-market bookings included two golf tournaments, and four sporting events at Simon Fraser University. Word-of-mouth and a strong digital marketing presence are helping INVITO reach customers who are increasingly more conscious of their surroundings and impact on the environment. Conversation and a smooth cup of coffee are effective in creating positive change!
From Seedling to Harvest
INVITO grew in 2021 from friends and family support to being served at local hot spots like the Kind Cafe + Eatery, The Cider House, the newly launched True Nosh, and exclusively through the delectable Brownie Bakers food truck. INVITO is stocked at 20 retailers across Canada, has 30-weekly subscribers, and approximately 100 returning Farmer’s Market patrons who also purchase freshly roasted beans for home brewing.
The company growth has been steady, with 316 lbs sold in its first month to almost doubling it by June with 608 lbs sold! In addition, Yaro is in the process of adding the finishing touches to a new mobile INVITO cafe, which will bring in a second revenue stream by attending public and private events, festivals and joining the city’s vibrant food truck scene.
Sustainability in Action
In 2021, INVITO re-used 1,000 glass jars with its LOOP Refill Program (a weekly subscription service) and eliminated 30 lbs of plastic. They also matched their 2020 figures by keeping 7,000 petroleum coffee bags from the landfill, which translates into 260 lbs of potential waste eliminated. In total, in just two years, diverted a quarter-ton of plastic waste.
It is of the utmost importance for Yaro and Heather to provide a safe, healthy, and productive work environment for all. For those who work with the company locally – in sales, marketing, design, promotions, and delivery – all positions are done remotely.
In Costa Rica, the family farm employs four families full-time, and during harvest, an additional 40 workers are on-site. All workers are paid above fair-trade wages and assist their children in attending school and are not at the farm day-to-day. The company places a high priority on ensuring the farmworkers and their families thrive.
A Pandemic Pivot Pays Off!
INVITO Coffee Roasters has created a coffee company that checks every box that consumers want with a product they purchase and enjoy daily. Zero-waste, fair-trade, plastic-free, 100% biodegradable and compostable, organic, vegan, and local-owned are not just buzzwords for INVITO! These are the bare minimum requirements to deliver, that become more valuable, as each day passes.
Curious to learn more about INVITO Coffee Roasters? Visit their website, follow on Instagram, and check out their four different roasts, gift baskets and mugs, retailers, and pull-down the Behind the Bean Blog tab to update your coffee knowledge.
- Helen Siwak is passionate about plantbased culinary, promoting a vegan lifestyle, shopping secondhand, and supporting eco-activists. Her plate is full as founder and president of EcoLuxLuv Comms (Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, EcoLuxLifestyle.co). | firstname.lastname@example.org.
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