Behind the Scenes: LVL. Coffee

Blake Hester began LVL. Coffee as a senior project, but after a few sales, he quickly saw the market.

What started out as a senior project quickly turned into something more for Agricultural Business senior  Blake Hester. With the freedom to do whatever he wanted, he wanted to take his passion for coffee and create a product that was equally health beneficial as it was tasty.  That led to the creation of LVL. Coffee, a cold brew with health benefits and sustained energy boost.

MCTs are easily digested and provide energy, support the metabolism and are burned by the body for energy and fuel.

Hester modeled his coffee from the popular health company brand Bulletproof Coffee, which is a hot coffee that is mixed with butter and MCT (which mean medium chain triglycerides)  Oil. The difference between Bulletproof Coffee and Hester’s coffee is that LVL. Coffee refrains from using butter and is also dairy free.  Hester gets his MCT oil from the dietary supplement brand Nutiva,  which typically come from the saturated fatty acids found in coconuts.

After learning about Hester’s product our group immediately felt like his company would make a good story. What we did not anticipate was the struggle to keep the balance of the story. Samantha Siegal said, “This project was really interesting because we were challenged with the aspect of not making the story too promotional while also having limited access to our main source.  It showed us how the real world works and how you have to think on your toes to make a story work sometimes and I think we achieved that!”

It took us awhile, but once we finally switched our focus of the story towards Hester’s transition from a senior project towards an actual business then we were able to get the ball rolling with how we wanted to tackle the project.

Hester has a small warehouse space that he pays for all on his own.

We started by going to Hester’s workshop where we got to see his process in bottling and packaging his orders. What was unique about Hester was that he does almost everything on his own.  Including going into markets to try and get LVL. Coffee on the shelves.  “That’s one of my favorite parts, you get rejected a lot,  but its motivation for me to keep making a better product and to keep trying to get it in stores”, Hester said.

Hester bottles, labels and packages all orders of LVL. Coffee by himself.

Due to Hester’s solo mantra, our group did have trouble trying to figure out how to really capture a complete story especially since we had to coordinate with Blake’s busy schedule so that we would be able to see the workshop. “It was such a fun time working on this project! I learned it really difficult having a feature story on someone when the source isn’t available as much as you’d like, but it was still a success! We made it work”, Emily Hulsman said.

Overall our group has shown the ability to support each other whenever one of us has hit a bump in the road. We were able to think quickly and contact sources who weren’t even on our radar at the beginning of the process. Brian Robbins said, “I enjoyed working on this project but it was more challenging than our previous topic. I think it’s because most of our information came from one source but I enjoyed thinking outside the box about what other sources would be useful for this story.”

Hester hopes to expand LVL. Coffee to the Los Angeles and Orange County areas within the year and eventually into the San Francisco and Seattle markets further down the line. Currently LVL. Coffee can be purchased at Campus Market on the Cal Poly campus, Lincoln Deli and California Fresh Market as well as a few other locations in the San Luis Obispo area.

Blake Hester, Agricultural Business senior, is the creator and founder of LVL. Coffee.