Ep. 033 – Erin Williamson, Owner of Pier Coffee

Ep. 033 – Erin Williamson, Owner of Pier Coffee




This week’s guest is Erin Williamson, the owner of Pier Coffee, a Seattle based cold-brew coffee brewer and distributor. They brew, package and produce their coffee cold and can it for ready to drink applications at grocery stores. The big idea is that when your on the go and grabbing a quick lunch at the grocery store, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice having access to gourmet cold-brew coffee… even if it’s out of a cold-case.


Highlights From This Episode:

Erin owned a coffee shop for a long time and after leaving that, she started a nano-brewery out of her laundry room in her house. Pier Coffee is now in a nice large brewing space that they share with Odin Brewing in South Center. The process for brewing cold-brew coffee and gourmet beer are pretty similar, so they take turns using the brewing equipment. They also have a tap-room off of the brewing space where they feature both Odin beers, Pier Coffee’s cold brew, along with some food.
Erin’s transition from from the hands on brewing to more the business operations side of things has been very eye-opening for her. She’s having to continually give up that she knows whats best all the time… realizing that she needs to give up control of certain aspects of the business to other people who are better at that aspect of the business then she is, and that she is also there to learn from them and that they are ultimately more successful in the end.
  • What do you love most about what you do? Love waking up in the morning, planning out her day and day never ends where she thinks its going to. There is always this joy of unexpected discovery everyday.
  • What was most surprising or unexpected with opening your own business? The steps required to grow in something and then the amount of hustle and need to project a certain image of “success” before feeling like your business was actually at that point.
  • What is Pier Coffee known for? That Pier Coffee really focuses on the technical aspect of cold-brew and the quality, coffee-sources, roasting & emphases on the brewing process. They also source all their coffee from woman owned coffee farms and cooperatives. Erin loves that they can bring together the technical and community aspect of making good coffee and running the business.
  • Where do you see the future of Pier Coffee being? Developing a really strong regional Pacific Northwest Regional presence. With the emphases being on quality and playing up the relationship between really good coffee and beer – tap houses and brewers were traditionally communal meeting areas. A place to exchange ideas and fellowship. In modern times, coffee houses have taken on that role too. Pier Coffee / Odin Brewery’s tap-house is a place were you can can get both… and a meal.
  • What is your greatest strength? Curiosity. Erin reads about everything and is a big believe that we can fuel our own growth through knowledge. Erin is what she calls, an autodidact, meaning being self taught.
  • What habit do you wish you had?  To get up when her alarm first goest off.
  • What are you passionate about? Too much… Before she was in the coffee world, Erin was a non-profit arts administrator. She tends to get passionate about non-profit volunteer opportunities. She is involved with Ventures Non-Profit (checkout Ep. 28 with Beto Yarce, the Executive Director of Ventures) teaching a weekly class for startup low-income and minority entrepreneurs. She is on the board of the non-profit co-op The Bridge School and just founded a new non-profit, Engender International, with the mission of supporting woman around the world who are in commodity markets, specifically in textile and agriculture.
  • What has been your biggest challenge with running Pier Coffee? Discipline. About a year ago they had a product recall which was very difficult to work through and they had to stop and reflect on what they were really trying to do. The lesson learned was that in moments like that, don’t get bogged down by focusing everything that needs to happen… just focus on the next step to move you in the right direction. And instead of thinking about the problem as this life shattering devastating moment, think about it as a puzzle and then try to fit the puzzle pieces in to put your picture back together.
  • In the past, what was holding you back from becoming the entrepreneur you are today? Erin didn’t know that she was one. Christian references the book the changed his business life around – The E-Myth Revisited: Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it by Michael Gerber
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Think of the wave your riding in life as a sine-wave (as opposed to a triangle-wave) – on a sine-wave, from the top of your peak, you can see your next valley but you can also see another series of peaks and from the valley you can still see your way out. As opposed to a triangle-wave, were the ups & downs are so steep, you can’t see your way out. This meaning that if you can keep your rollercoaster of emotion in check in business and life, you will be able to maintain a clearer head and perspective.
  • What is a personal habit that contribute to your success? Smiling.
  • What is the best advice you have ever received?
  • What is your one book recommendation for our listeners?Catherine Gramm’s Biography. She was the publisher of The Washington Post during the Watergate era. She was thrust into a position that she was not trained in but ended up thriving in that role… this happens in life sometimes, where being an outsider can give you unique insight and lead to success.
  • Parting Guidance – The thing I talk to my clients (at Ventures) about all the time, is that as people our tendency is to focus on what is not going right or what we are not good at and then make plans to correct those but we often reflect on what is going right and what we do well. Spend time focusing on what has been successful and make plans to do more of that – Success reflections and success plans. Do this on a three year cycle because as humans,we tend to overestimate what we can do in 1 year but underestimate what we can do in 3 years.

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Thanks for joining me again this week. If you have any tips, suggestions, or comments about this episode – email me at ChristianH@Sea-TownPodcast.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post. Thank you! And finally, please leave an honest review for The Sea-Town Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show and I read each and every one of them.

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