Photo by Erica Techo.
Tyler Nash, left, and Giorgio Fareira serve Innova coffee at the Nash’s home. Rather than open a brick-and-mortar location, Tyler and Anna Nash chose to open their home to the community.
On Saturday mornings in January, Tyler and Anna Nash had their home filled with people, some family, some friends and some strangers. All were there to support their new business: Innova Coffee.
Instead of waiting to move into a permanent space, they decided to host gatherings in their Altadena home to get the word out and create a following in their new coffee business before they grow into a permanent space.
“When you feel greatly supported with what we had envisioned, and to see it happening when we don’t even have space yet is very exciting,” Tyler Nash said.
After spending 14 years in a corporate job, Tyler Nash inherited money and became an investor, or so he thought.
“I spent about 10 years doing investing,” Tyler Nash said. “Honestly, probably by year five, I knew I wasn’t an investor, but could not say I had failed. I kept pushing and finally by year 10, we were just at the end financially. We had built a beautiful home, sold it, and began a process starting over at age 50.”
While looking for a fresh start, Tyler Nash heard about a coffee shop opening nearby and decided to apply for a job. He asked them to overlook his gray hair and consider him a college student with as many hours as they could give him.
Tyler Nash described this as an extremely humbling experience, especially after putting up an image of success for the past several years.
“The Neighborhood Brew was in an area where we knew a lot of people,” he said. ”I had to tell people hundreds of times that the shop wasn’t mine, that I just worked there. It was good for me to break down that facade of success. In that process two things happened: One was being broken. The other was discovering that I loved this. The space, the creating, the environment and staff.”
Tyler Nash said there was a lack of life in him when he started working there, and his outlook was pretty dark. It wasn’t easy for him to start over, punching the clock at age 50. He said his wife, Anna, inspired him, and her constant encouragement and optimism made the process easier.
While working as a barista, Tyler Nash said he realized his love for craft coffee and serving people.
“If your passion really is to take care of people, it translates into what you serve and how you serve. That’s a natural tendency of mine, to want to take care of people,” he said.
Tyler Nash decided it was time to turn his passion into reality. After three years working at The Brew, he and Anna Nash made the decision to launch their own coffee company. While this pursuit may be meant for young entrepreneurs, Tyler Nash said he isn’t worried about what he should be doing or look like at his age.
The couple describe their approach as a grass roots launch that involves connecting with people before they have a space. They update through their website, blog and social media.
They chose the name Innova, which means “renewal” in Latin, because they believe coffee is more than just a drink, but an experience. The Nashes want their customers to experience a sense of renewal every time they have their coffee.
“Innova gets back to our passion, what we want to create for people. Renewal is what we want people to experience by what we serve them, by our environment, the atmosphere we create and our staff,” Tyler Nash said.
Anna Nash said the word Innova is the story of their life.
“We’ve been renewed through this personally,” she said. “I love that it’s in another language. What happens is, people ask what the name means, and that paves the way for us to tell the story. Curiosity gives us the opportunity to speak about it.”
Innova uses beans from Seeds Coffee Company in Homewood. They serve two flavors, Guatemala and Sumatra, but they said they will introduce new flavors as the seasons change.
“Seeds’ passion is also about people, whether the farmer, staff or their guests,” Tyler Nash said. “That’s what drove them to start their company. They are excellent at what they do. They study the coffee and the regions. They have a passion for people and excellence in their work. In craft coffee, you’re preserving the soil climate in which it’s created.”
Innova is offering samples with both varieties of coffee, as well as selling mugs and stickers with their logo.
Anna Nash describes the process starting out as gradual and slow, and now they’re on the fast track.
“It’s moving so fast we can’t even hold on,” she said. “It’s definitely been a roller coaster emotionally. So many people have walked with us, from graphic designers, videographers, everyone wants to do something. We don’t want it to be about us. We want everyone to be a part of this story.”
The Nashes want their focus to be in the Altadena area, where they live. Their goal is to nail down a space soon for their brick-and-mortar location. In the meantime, they will continue to grow their following and choose a property as soon as possible.
Until then, they will continue to host local gatherings and do pop-ups at coffee shops, including Sprout and Pour in Homewood.
To keep up with Innova, Anna Nash handles the social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tyler Nash also blogs every other week as things progress and develop on their website at innovacoffee.com.
Anna Nash said they want to be an inspiration to others, and that can be as simple as a cup of coffee.
“We stumbled on the quote to ‘do what you have with what you have where you are,’ and that’s what we’re about,” she said.
Tyler Nash said there was a time in the past when they had the money and could have gone out and built a shop, but at that time, did not have the vision or passion.
“The idea birthed in us, and so the question was: What can we do right now?” he said. “This is what we can do. We can do what we love.”