Young Entrepreneur Brews Global Business After Graduation
By Jamie Dickson
Photography by Chris Smith
Shane Buerster, owner of Z Beans Coffee, has created a thriving Macon-based business using his penchant for coffee and his passion for helping South American farmers.
Buerster founded Z Beans after meeting several coffee growers during a 2016 Mercer on Mission trip to Zaruma, Ecuador. There, he found his calling: to help Ecuadorian coffee farmers prosper by selling their product in the U.S.
In 2017, he started selling bags of coffee directly to consumers and began a residency with the Mercer University Innovation Center, an incubator for aspiring entrepreneurs, where he developed, fine-tuned and operated the business for about 18 months.
“I will forever be a big supporter of (the Mercer Innovation Center),” he said. “The most crucial time for a business is the first few years, as capital is scarce, cash flow is tight and mistakes are rampant. The Innovation Center pacified these three problems.”
By fall 2018, Buerster, a Mercer graduate, opened a brick and mortar coffee shop and eatery in Mercer Village. The Z Beans storefront employees 12 people, and offers pastries, desserts, sandwiches, wraps, soups and smoothies.
In March, Z Beans opened its second location, at 311 Cotton Ave.
“The second location is a big step for us. It’s our first time moving out of the Mercer environment and into the business district,” Buerster said. “Being the first shop that we have had the ability to design, we have created more working space, which will allow us to have a more expansive menu and more flexibility for catering opportunities.”
Z Beans has grown into a successful company, and Buerster said he hopes the new location will further the brand’s mission to create sustainable solutions for Ecuadorian coffee farmers.
“We have had tremendous feedback about the quality of our farmers’ coffees,” he said.
The expanding business has cheerleaders all over the country, and especially in its hometown of Macon. Buerster said the community’s support has been vital to his success.
“Macon has played an integral role in Z Bean’s success,” he said. “When we first started selling our product … the Macon community immediately supported our project. … From the support, mentorship and capital of the Central Piedmont Investment Group, to the loyal Z Beans customers, Macon has become Z Beans’ home.”