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Meet Ally Walsh of Canyon Coffee in Echo Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ally Walsh.

Ally, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was always a coffee lover! But it wasn’t until I met my partner Casey in 2013 that it developed into more of a passion. We were both traveling a lot for work (me for modeling, Casey as a musician) and we began learning more about the coffee culture and industry. Casey later started working in the industry as a barista, and this ultimately led us to our friendship with a roaster, James Klapp, who we really aligned within our perspectives and vision for coffee.

Casey and I had always wanted to start something together, and we finally connected the dots in early 2016, when our friendship with James culminated in a decision to start our own project. We launched Canyon Coffee about five months later! The process of developing the brand, creating our strategy and building the business was especially fun, and it’s what set us up for the success we’ve had.

As a model and musician, it felt so good to be channeling our energy into creating something tangible that we could share. That said, we put a lot of our focus into designing a package that could carry all the intangible feelings coffee brings for us. And when we set out to find our first wholesale accounts, we thought of our favorite shops—places we loved visiting that we thought would be a great home for the quality and vibe of what we were creating. From those first weeks, it’s just been a nice organic process of growing as we continue to learn and improve upon our quality and business, all the while prioritizing balance in our personal lives.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We definitely feel grateful for the response our coffee has received, as well as all the people we’ve been fortunate to meet and become friends with as a result of our company. I think smooth road is up to interpretation! There are so many things to consider and learn about when starting your first business. It’s been a constant process of encountering challenges, identifying resolutions, learning and working hard to continue on past them. Sometimes it feels like a struggle, but every once in a while you check in on how far you’ve come and realized that things have actually been going great! A lot has seemed to happen in a relatively short amount of time when you start a business. The only thing is that it doesn’t feel like a short amount of time when you’re in it. I can say that we also didn’t wait around for people to notice our company. We got there and did free coffee pop-up’s 2-3 times a month for the first year when we started.

Aside from the usual learning-how-to-run-a-business stuff, an issue that we’re often asked about is how we manage our relationship as a couple who are business partners. Relationships can already be a lot of work, without the added demands of sharing a business. But always falling back on open, honest communication and being aware of how important it is to have separate “non-business” time has kept us together and happy. 🙂

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Canyon Coffee – what should we know?
We’re Canyon Coffee! We source organic beans and roast them here in Los Angeles. There are so many great coffees and roasters out there. What we sought out to do, from the beginning, was produce consistently smooth, balanced coffees that always carry a nice caramel or chocolate base and are easy to make (forgiving?) when brewing at home. We fell in love with coffee through making pour overs for each other at home, and we wanted to make it easier for our friends to make great coffee at home, too. Two years in, we still carry the same mission, and we’ve also been expanding our palette and sourcing incredible coffees from new regions. We are probably most known or easily recognized for our package, which we designed to embody the warmth and specialness that coffee brings to us. We’re proud of a few things. One, we’re probably most proud about our quality and commitment to improving it, always. While it isn’t something we’ve talked about much, we taste every batch and run quality control to consistently improve. Two, we’re proud to be creating something that’s making people happy. We get great responses from local and online customers who talk about how our coffee brightens their days. That’s what really makes us happy!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think it’s our commitment to our values and our vision. There are so many opportunities presenting themselves, many are very exciting, and we consider almost all of them—new business ventures, partnerships, collaborations, product ideas, etc. But we eventually get down to whether or not any opportunity or idea is in line with what we want for our business, for our customers, and for our own day-to-day life. And if something isn’t in line, we don’t compromise. Building something authentic and true to ourselves is everything.

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