Lev Hunter is creating a better Flint one cup of coffee at a time.
“When you come to see me, it’s never “‘here’s your coffee, thanks and have a good day,'” says the owner of The Daily Brew. “I’m going to talk to you. I’m going to teach you about coffee and how I’m making it for you. I am going to give you an experience.”
It’s Hunter’s recipe of personal attention and thoughtful conversation that has been increasingly attracting more customers to his mobile coffee company, which is now in its third year of operation. Hunter has established legions of loyal customers since he began pouring his custom brews.
The steady growth has been rewarding. The Daily Brew initially started out as a podcast and YouTube Channel. When a friend suggested that he would make a successful mobile barista, Hunter took his show on the road. He was drawn to the idea of a business that he could run while keeping a 9-5 job and being able to share his passion for quality coffee. Social events and Pop-Ups have gone a long way to getting the brand into public view.
“I decided that I was going to be exclusively mobile, because I can reach more people,” he says. “Most of the time people have to go out to a coffee shop and rarely can you get good coffee brought to you.”
Like any company, The Daily Brew has had its share of growing pains. For Hunter, the biggest challenge has been raising capital. However, he has navigated the challenges well. Just a little over a year ago, he competed in Fenton’s Shark Tank Challenge. By that time, he had added teas to his roster and wanted to expand his offerings to include lattes. He was hoping to secure funds to purchase a latte machine in order to bring that goal to fruition. Although Hunter didn’t win, he vowed that he wasn’t going to give up.
In a leap of faith, Hunter solicited the community to help him by loaning him money thru the Kiva.org crowdfunding platform. He raised all the money he needed in less than one month.
“I did a radio interview on Cars 108, tons of social media posts and there was a lot of word of mouth,” Hunter says. “I am so grateful that the community has really embraced me and now I can serve them well.”
Aside from various social events and Pop Ups, Hunter will also be serving people as a manager at the Flint branch of the Foster Coffee Company.
“I’ve been there for about a month and it’s a win-win for both sides,” Hunter says. “I’m able to take my skill set and love for coffee and business and help Foster with their own aspirations.”
He adds, “I’ll do my best for them because, in the long run, their success is my success, and our success is the community’s success.”
An ability and desire to drive business, awareness and community involvement is a few things that Hunter brings to his new post. In return he gets what he describes as the best of both worlds — he gets to simultaneously be an employee and a business owner in an industry he loves. Furthermore, paid opportunities to learn on the job aren’t common these days, and Hunter affirms that it’s been nothing short of a blessing.
“I am getting a deeper understanding of what can be accomplished in Flint. I can see how it is possible to bring community into my business and how to bring positive economic development to change Flint for the better,” he says.
Hunter expects that The Daily Brew will continue to be on the forefront of the continuing change that his native city is experiencing. He has plans to upgrade his coffee cart so that it looks better and the possibility of opening a cafe is definitely a possibility.
He says that to some people, local business opportunities might seem scarce and the scene might seem bleak. But, he insists that there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. One just needs to be a go-getter and suss out the opportunities that are actually quite plentiful.
There’s more help than ever from places like the City of Flint Economic Development Center, Metro Community Development’s BizBox, and the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, according to Hunter.
“And people definitely need to check out organizations like Flint SOUP which funds startups with cash money. I think they are the heartbeat of entrepreneurs here in the city of Flint,”he says.
Seeing business as more than a transaction, and having the courage to reach out and get help from the community is also a bit of wisdom he readily shares.
“Through serving up many coffees and conversations in Flint, I learned that we really care about each other. There are some of the most beautiful people in the world living here,” he says. “My mom, my pastor and his wife are certainly my secret sauce to success. And, so is everyone who has supported me by giving me the chance to serve them.”
Editor’s Note: You can purchase Lev’s heavenly grinds at TheDailyBrewCoffee.com. Stop in and visit Lev at Foster Coffee’s Flint location located at 615 Saginaw Street in downtown Flint.
This series on Flint and Genesee County entrepreneurs is sponsored by Metro Community Development, a community development financial institution and originator of BizBox, a 360 degree business program that includes training, development and financial support.
To learn more call 810-767-4622 or visit metrocommunitydevelopment.com