We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Iwashko and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Andrew, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
One of the driving factors for moving and building a life in Breckenridge, Colorado has revolved around the idea of a healthy work life balance. As an avid skier and an overall outdoor enthusiast, Summit County has provided the perfect place for being able to enjoy life from an everyday perspective.

My first years in Breckenridge, the life component of work-life balance, was the priority as I initially thought this was going to only be a small chapter of my life. Quickly I realized that these mountains is the place I want to call home for the foreseeable future. After this realization I did see this balance change over time.

The cost of living in Summit County is quite high and to be able to live comfortably, it takes either a well qualified career and/or multiple jobs where you exceed working 40 hours a week. I initially started working with the town of Breckenridge’s water department to hopefully achieve a healthy work life balance. Working four 10-hour shifts allowed me to have three days of the week to be able to capitalize on all the wonders that Summit and surrounding areas have to offer.

However after a while I realized that I wanted to find a career opportunity to where I could integrate my passion for of the outdoors and creativity into the work place. Then in 2018, I was presented with an opportunity to help start Breckenridge Coffee Roasters. My work life balance had evolved in both positive and negatives ways. Being part of a start-up with its 24/7 mentality of thinking about the success of the business, my work-life balance has shifted to a state where I am not able to take off
three days in a row for full on escapes every week as I had before. To counter this evolution of my work-life balance, starting Breck Coffee Roasters has allowed me to incorporate my passions into my work. Some examples of this includes marketing projects such as weekly morning community backcountry skins that we sponsor, or simply making art with coffee. Additionally the 24/7 mentality does have a nice bonus for work-life balance as there is no set daily schedule. With the business being more goal oriented, I am able to take a couple of hour breaks throughout the day to take care of my mental health whether its capitalizing on a powder day or beautiful sunshine to go for a ski or a bike ride.

Even though the Breck Coffee endeavor has added substantial hours to my average work week; I am very happy with the decision as one of my goals in life is to love what I do for work. That way it doesn’t feel like you work a day in your life, and now I am one step closer to reaching that goal. We still have a lot of work to reach the full potential of our business and goals, but once we get there I know that I, and the team I am privileged to work with will have a very healthy work-life balance in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

What should our readers know about your business?
What I am most proud of with our business is what we are trying to accomplish. We are trying to create a model (first with our Summit County community) that can be replicated in any community and any artisan commodity worldwide, while preparing for what the world is going to look like in the future.

At the initial stages of our business, we realized that the majority of businesses in Summit were getting their coffee from outside of their county. This was a major problem for us as it meant that people were drinking coffee that is not only older but also has a larger environmental imprint. If every mountain community can have its own distillery and brewery, why can’t each one have its own coffee roaster that can meet the county’s wholesale demands?

We took these values and goals and tried to set this business model up. Important criteria for us is first to use specialty graded, arabica beans to ensure that our clients enjoy a quality cup of coffee. Second is to minimize our environmental impact in how our coffee is being packaged and consumed by our clients.

This was challenging at first as the way and types of coffees that the county used had a very wide scope. Potential clients wanted everything from bulk coffee, single-serve pods, retail bag, sing-serve bags and pouches, to cold brew and coffee supplement items. This was difficult to navigate at first. However after finding an offer list that we felt comfortable with, providing bulk coffee in reusable food grade buckets that we collect and reuse, and industrial compostable single-serve packaging for hotels/property management companies, we were able to start building our company. With growth and patience we were able to add to our offering list throughout the years allowing us to meet all of our clients coffee demands.

We also learned that we can not do it all, at least in the first years of building a business. Start with a few items but make sure those items are flawless and maintain a high quality. Once those items are mastered, you can add another and another, allowing for the company to grow organically while maintaining a high standard.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A week in Breckenridge… I have spent six years here now and still have never run out of things to do and see. That’s the beauty of this place.

To start off mornings, I definitely recommend early starts, to make sure you capture the alpine glow on the mountains. This can be paired with a walk to one of the many awesome coffee shops in town. I’ll start with the shameless plug of our brick and mortar location, Cuppa Joe, where you can enjoy all of our Breck Coffee offerings paired with a panoramic view of the Tenmile range. Some of our other favorite cafes in town. Semplice, (a cute walk-up cafe with the best paninis in town), The Crown (great environment with awesome cocktails as well), Cool River (some of the best breakfast sandwiches) and Blue Moose (for that dine-in breakfast you want).

For the afternoon and evenings Breckenridge has many restaurants and bars scattered all along the town core. The beauty of it is that you can spend several days getting lost in walkable Breck and see something new every day. Some of my favorite places to eat, drink and hang-out in no particular order are Blue River Bistro (martinis and great lunch specials), Aurum (a beautiful space that has even more beautiful plates of food) and Tin Plate Pizza (not a slice of heaven but a whole pie of it). The outskirts of town have some amazing gems that in the summertime you could bike to, and these two businesses also offer free shuttles, if you call them in advance. The first is Broken Compass, my favorite brewery to go with a group of friends and hang out over a board game and a brew. The second is the Breckenridge Distillery, a pillar of the Breckenridge experience. They have done a wonderful job on creating a place to spend an entire evening. You can take a tour of their facility and finish the day with dining in their wonderful restaurant where they pair delicious eats with world-class cocktails.

Now my favorite parts of Breckenridge, the outdoors! I can give out a few recommendations but my best advice is to pick the brain of a local you meet. Whether at your hotel lobby or a barista at the local coffee shop where you are starting your day. If you are visiting with a family I would recommend Lookout Mountain right next to the Breckenridge icerink. We have our famous art troll, Isak Hearthstone, nestled in the woods on the beginning of the hike and a beautiful view of Breckenridge in a 30-minute hike to the peak, with the option of going ice skating after. If you are ready to spend half the day outside and want to get those miles in I would recommend either hiking up Baldy Mountain or if it’s summertime take Boreas Pass to get to the trailhead of Black Powder Pass. If you would like to stay more grounded in the valley, I would recommend renting a bike and taking it down to Lake Dillon where you can spend the entire day biking on its path systems with views for days.

But the best advice I can give is to get lost, go with your gut feelings and speak with the people around you. You’ll never know what gem you will find.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to start and first thank the man that allowed for all of this to happen, Alex Bremer the founder of this company. Alex took his local coffee shop in Breckenridge, Cuppa Joe, and brought myself and a few others on the ground floor to build a coffee roasting company with the goal of meeting wholesale needs of the mountain community. I am forever grateful to have been given this opportunity and freedom to help start this company and make large impactful decisions, with little academic background in entrepreneurship.

It’s important to thank Mateo Salonos and Kiarra Grant for being great business partners in the first years of our business’ journey as we took an idea and turned it into a respected Summit County business serving over a hundred clients. I would like to also thank Jonathon Grove, our head roaster and Mariah Hildreth, our cafe manager for continuing to elevate the quality of coffee and the experience of our brand, I am looking forward to seeing where we will take this company in the upcoming years.

My partner, Liz Tabraj, deserves a huge shoutout for being supportive throughout this entire process. The long days, spitballing ideas, frustrations at the most random hours, wanting to stop by every coffee shop — thank you for always being there. You have had a large impact on this company even if you don’t directly see it.

The final shoutout is to my parents, Mark and Ekaternia, who were supportive and gave me much advise during the tough transition of moving from a safe government job to starting a business from the ground up with no guarantee of success. Thank you for continued support and being a rock I can always count on.

Oh and I’ve got to thank Summit County and the town of Breckenridge for allowing us to build this business to where we are today. We built Breck Coffee for this community and we are forever grateful that you welcomed us in and have enjoyed our product. We promise to continue to work hard to keep y’all happy and caffeinated.

Website: www.breckenridgecoffeeroasters.com

Instagram: breckcoffee

Facebook: Breck Coffee Roasters

Image Credits
Jeff Urbahn, David Cudd, Kiarra Grant, Jesus Davis,

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