Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tyler Ellis, Co-Owner of Captain + Stoker Coffee Roasters, located in Monterey, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a specialty coffee roasting company with two retail locations. One in downtown Monterey and 1 in downtown Pacific Grove. Our customers vary from college students filling the cafe and studying to the older demographic meeting for a quick cup. It's an open place for anyone to come, meet new people, and sit in our large community. Ya never know who you will meet or what conversation you will find yourself in.

Tell us about yourself

Our names are Tyler Ellis and Kelsea Richmond. Kelsea and I have been together for ten years strong and put our hearts and soul into what we do. It was an accident on how we got started, really. We traveled in our van all over the country for about a year and found ourselves in Monterey. Ended up meeting a tech guy that pitched us the idea of opening a coffee shop that was bicycle influenced (I was that bike rider). Ended up quitting my job the next day and got started. At this point, Kelsea and I had no idea how to run a business; we didn't even like coffee at the time! Long story short, we opened all together ten months after that day, and Kelsea and I were managing the business. Three short months after our doors opened, the tech dude decided he didn't like what he was doing and closed the business, and wanted to sell. So seven days after that, Kelsea and I took it over ourselves. The first day we bought it, I learned how to roast coffee, and Kelsea went to make us legal. Five years later, and here we are! 2 retail locations, one roasting warehouse, and over 30 wholesale accounts. What keeps us going? Simple, from the first day until now, the community has had our back since day 1. We strive to create safe, fun, and growth opportunities for our staff and continue to never close the door to our minds in terms of learning. We now very much enjoy coffee and continue to work In tandem with our crew, community, and earth.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Just being here, to be honest. Being a welder by trade and Kelsea always works as either a medical or dental receptionist. Our biggest accomplishment is owning a strongly growing company with no college and no degree in business. We are just out here continuing to learn and push ourselves to be better.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

It never ends. Honestly, this would be a whole lot easier if the world wasn't so against us all the time, from dealing with COVID to natural disasters in our first five years. I can't imagine where we would be if these things didn't happen. In the end, it is just another barrier to get over.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Put your heart into it; never do it halfway.
  2. You're not always right. Listen to the people around you.
  3. It's worth it; at times, it may not seem that way, but I promise you that if you care about what you're doing, it will show. People will always support that.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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