My name is Nicolas Milone, Co-Founder of Foxen Coffee, and this is my coffee story.
I was technically born into it – my dad and his brothers started a café in Modesto California in the late 80’s called “Plantation Coffee.” I remember eating the coffee beans out of the roaster as early as 5 years old, bouncing off the walls and talking to all the customers. My dad has a “horror story” he talks about when he tried to warn me about the heat of the roaster by tapping my hand on it, and I freaked out apparently lol (I don’t remember).
I learned to play Chess in that Café, I met all kinds of people, and life was never boring. I was too young to understand exactly what was going on at the time, but now I know that was a business.
At a certain point my dad and his brothers decided to start distributing their coffee Wholesale, and so they split the business into two entities, Plantation and Milone Brother’s Coffee (currently known as Milone Coffee & Tea). Eventually my dad would depart from the business and my Uncle Joe would continue running it today, employing my dear family and friends that I truly love and am Inspired by.
At this point we packed up and moved to Ventura California. My dad had a new job selling Commercial Coffee Roasting machines for a company in Santa Barbara called PRIMO Coffee Roasters. I was just entering Middle School at the time.
I loved Southern California in the 90’s and early 2000’s. All I wanted to do was skateboard, play sports with my neighbors and leagues, hangout with my friends, and whatever the heck else. I look back and wonder how I had all the energy because it was fueled by mostly candy and pure adrenaline lol.
Anyway, eventually we moved further south on the coast to Dana Point and then Oceanside. My dad opened another coffee roastery called “Tuscany Espresso Italia” and my mom did sales. Next thing I know I’m in high school, making coffee deliveries, and occasional roasting as a side-gig to earn some cash. My parents developed a network of accounts all from San Diego to Orange County, and some stuff in Norther Cali.
We roasted at night when other commercial businesses around us were closed. Apparently someone complained about the wonderful smell of coffee in the morning so we had to roast into the night. Go figure. Anyway, I loved it. Got some time to be on my own, blasted and jammed to metal music, ate coffee beans, and then played video games until the sun rose after I got home.
In-between that I worked for one of my parents customers, a Café right on the beach in San Clemente called Kaylani Coffee Co. Made all kinds of drinks from espresso to brews, smooties, and countless other stuff.
Eventually my dad would decide to sell Tuscany Espresso Italia, to San Diego Coffee Company and retire from the coffee business… Until now. We just can’t seem to stay away from it, I guess. It runs in my family’s veins… We work for beans.
Most of my family since then has moved to Missouri, and so have I. It’s a great place to start a new business. I find my past experiences (although I wasn’t directly involved with a lot of the business aspects) very valuable as I make my own way in the Coffee world with Foxen.
Although I have these experiences to lean on with my family, I never imagined the challenges I would face when running an actual business. Roasting Coffee is a tool, but running a business is wearing more hats than I ever knew existed! One day I’m a designer, the next day I’m a marketer, sales guy, production manager, purchaser, account manager, quality control manager, distribution manager, social media manager, customer service, media producer, delivery guy, coffee brewing trainer, repair operator, hardware installer, the list just goes on and on…
I couldn’t do any of it without my family there to help. Every step of the way is a learning experience for me and It’s so fulfilling to see the fruits of our labor through all of this. Our business is really growing into something real, and it’s thanks to all of you who paid attention. I can’t explain to you how appreciative I am to have every one of you as a customer, you have been a part of igniting a passion that’s been dormant in my blood since the day I was born. I never knew it until recently, and I’m excited to see where we all take this next.
-Nico, Co-Founder, Foxen Coffee