SDSU senior debuts coffee business

by Alissa Kasawdish, Staff Writer

Journalism and media studies senior Teal Cooper had her first coffee vending machine experience in Florence, Italy — a city full of espresso-lovers.

Though she’d already been a coffee-lover, she fell deeper in love at Florence University of the Arts while studying abroad in spring 2015. Coffee was accessible 24/7 with a java vending machine in the center of campus.

She liked the idea so much that she decided to partner with her brother, Tristan Cooper, to bring that machine back to San Diego.

“My brother called me one night while he was cramming for this test at 12 a.m.,” Cooper said. “He needed coffee, but nothing was open, and that’s when he said we should open a 24/7 coffee machine.”

Tristan is a sophomore studying economics at the University of Texas in Austin.

The two combined their creative and entrepreneurial skills and founded VendiBean, the first fair-trade organic coffee house inside of a vending machine.

“I came back home from Florence, did a lot of research and found out there were no appealing and organic coffee vending machines in America,” Cooper said. “I’ve been doing my homework all year to make this project come alive in the SDSU community.”

Journalism and media studies senior Daniella Sanchez is a strong coffee-lover and relates to the struggle of an “all-nighter.”

“It comes to a point where a boost of caffeine to get you through the night becomes more than vital for survival,” Sanchez said. “Coffee to many is equivalent to the blood that runs through their veins since it keeps them going and alert throughout the day.”

Cooper worked with her friend and graphic designer Jordan Harmon to design the vending machine. Inside is a European-designed brewing and filter system with quality coffee distributed by Caffé’ D’arte, an Italian fair-trade organic coffee roasting company.

Coffee drinkers have different tastes, so consumers can choose from the decaf or regular brew and choose to add sugar, Nature’s First natural creamer or both to their customized mix.

VendiBean offers four blends: espresso, café latte, cappuccino and French vanilla cappuccino.

Cooper said the menu will change as they grow, but these seem to be the most popular blends among young people.

“They will satisfy their needs in a quick manner through the vending machine while still experiencing a trendy, personable coffee-house feel,” she said.

VendiBean is largely targeted toward millennials, so Cooper designed coffee cups to engage with customers on social media.

With their slogan “Coffee Because…” on the cup, consumers are left to fill in the blank with the reason why they drink coffee. Cooper encourages consumers to be creative by posting a picture of their personalized cup on social media. The most creative response wins free prizes.

“Our main goal is to create one big Vendi family through coffee and creativity,” she said.

Cooper is excited to launch VendiBean from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at BLVD63 Apartments located at 6345 El Cajon Boulevard.

They will be giving out coupons for $1 off of a customer’s first cup of coffee.

Free VendiBean shirts and hats will also be given away to people who share the most creative social media posts of their VendiBean cup. Kind Bars will also be available.

After starting out near San Diego State, Cooper and her brother hope to expand their business to gyms, libraries and college campuses so others can brew their own coffee with VendiBean.