When Edward and Megan Moreno visited Brazil in 2006, they fell in love with the laid-back, social-centric culture. “They’re more interested in the quality of time spent than schedules and appointments,” says Megan Moreno. For the Morenos, an integral part of their joyously relaxed experience was the relationship between coffee-drinking and quality time. “We would sit around and visit, just drinking quality, freshly roasted coffee out of these tiny cups that felt so different than our ginormous American trenta cups from Starbucks. The coffee culture was extraordinary,” Megan says.
This experience inspired the Benson-based Morenos to investigate the ways quality coffee could be roasted and sold in their hometown of Benson, where they returned after graduating from the University of Arizona. “Edward is very inquisitive, so he began researching how, exactly, we could get quality, flavorful coffee in Benson, and we started ordering different types of beans and roasts online. One day, he found a roaster online. I couldn’t believe he talked me into it, but we ordered it and set it up in the shed in the backyard. The first time we roasted, he almost burned the shed down,” Megan says. “But he really fell in love with the whole process of roasting coffee, and we began reinvesting our money into a commercial roaster and really building our business.”
The pair dove into the specialty coffee market, learning all they could about sourcing beans, taste-testing, roasting, and selling their product online. Edward honed his manual roasting to carefully craft offerings with optimal flavor profiles: “Where we are in America, not everyone necessarily wants really flavorful or bright coffee,” Megan says. “Right now, we have six different offerings, and a decaf, because everyone’s palate is different. All artisanal roasting is truly an art.” The husband-and-wife team prefer different roasts: Megan favors the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, which Mo’ Coffee roasts lightly to give a bright taste with flavors of blueberry pie, whereas Edward’s preference lands on one of their several chocolate-y, nutty Brazilian roasts.
Today, the Morenos operate Mo’ Coffee from their home in Benson, which presents simultaneous benefits and challenges. “We’re both from Benson, so after going to school at the University of Arizona, we both wanted to move back. For small business, though, it can be a really hard market. It’s just volatile. There’s potential for Benson to grow as a result of some major projects in the future, but for the time being, we’re happy working on growing our wholesale accounts and visiting farmers’ markets rather than pursuing opening a brick-and-mortar shop.” Mo’ Coffee sells their beans online, and coffee lovers can also find the fledgling business at the Heirloom Farmers’ Market at Trail Dust Town.
For the couple, the venture is one of joy. “I think the best part of what we do, and what we love so much about it is not necessarily the coffee, but the opportunity to build community through coffee,” says Megan. “You know how they say that every person you meet knows something that you don’t? Well, we’ve learned so much from so many different people that we never would have met if it weren’t for Mo’ Coffee.”
Marguerite Happe is a writer, English teacher, and editor. Follow her on Instagram @margueritehappe.