When Caleb MacPherson, now 28 and the founder of Narrative Coffee Roasters, and his wife Megan moved to Southwest Florida from Ottawa seven years ago, the couple spent their weekends traveling to Orlando, Tampa and Miami just for a good cup of coffee. “It felt like everything in Southwest Florida at the time was like a ’90s airport coffee shop,” MacPherson says. He was used to an elevated approach to coffee. Locally, all he could find was unsatisfactory.
Eventually, MacPherson’s wife got tired of hearing him complain. She gave him an ultimatum: Either do something about it or shut up. So he started looking into coffee roasters—a high-quality, commercial-grade roaster would cost him $2,400. The newly married coupled had $3,000 in the bank. “My wife believed in me enough to let me empty our savings,” MacPherson says. “If she didn’t push me, Narrative wouldn’t be here today.”
MacPherson started off roasting coffee beans in their Fort Myers apartment in 2016. He focused on unique coffees from around the world and gave his beans a light to medium roast, letting the coffee’s natural sweetness shine. Soon, he had enough wholesale business to move his operation into a warehouse in north Cape Coral. From there, he launched a mobile espresso cart in 2018. He opened his first retail shop in Mercato in 2018, and a second shop on Central Avenue in 2021. “It was a long, arduous process to get where we are now,” he admits.
MacPherson began his business when he had little to lose, and he says that has made all the difference. “A lot of entrepreneurs fail to realize that it’s never going to get easier than when you have nothing,” he says. “Now we have two shops, a roasting company, two children and a business partner. If we fail now, it’s the end of the world for us.”
An Honest Look
Before would-be entrepreneurs take the leap, MacPherson suggests they take an honest look at their motivations. “We live in a culture where everyone wants to be an entrepreneur,” he says. “But no one talks about what you have to sacrifice to make it happen.” For someone who likes weekends off and a good work-life balance, entrepreneurship may not be the best route. “Make sure it’s what you really want before you venture out and bring your family on board.”
Some Fatherly Advice
When MacPherson was deciding whether to launch his own business, he called his dad for some advice. His father laughed. “I have no idea what you should do,” he said. “I can promise you this: If you don’t do it, the world’s not going to end. But you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what if. If you can live with that, then it’s not worth it. If you can’t—if it’s going to keep you up at night—then you have to do it.”