From the Farm to Fame: Tracking the Growth Journey of This Mobile Coffee Cart

From the Farm to Fame: Tracking the Growth Journey of This Mobile Coffee Cart
Hailing from a family of coffee farmers in Liberia, Dennis Garsinii is on a mission to change the marketplace one coffee cup at a time.
by Maya Rollings Jul 02, 2024 — 4 min read
From the Farm to Fame: Tracking the Growth Journey of This Mobile Coffee Cart

About this series

The Viral Effect

The Viral Effect

The Viral Effect is a series that follows viral businesses in order to help business owners apply learnings and navigate vigorous growth.
See full series

Hailing from a family of coffee farmers in Liberia, West Africa, Dennis Garsinii is on a mission to change the marketplace one coffee cup at a time. In December 2023, he founded The West African Coffee Farmers Initiative (also known as WAFI), a Los Angeles–based mobile coffee cart whose goal is to take coffee from the farmer directly to the coffee lover. Currently, coffee beans have to go through a trader, a broker, a roaster, and a coffee shop before finally reaching the consumer. 

“Everybody has to take something off the top. Our goal is to equip our farmers with tools and resources so they can produce top-tier quality coffee, and then have stations like this where we can just sell the coffee that we grow on our farms directly to the consumer,” said Garsinii. “So no middlemen. Just us and the consumer.”

For Garsinii, farming this relationship (pun intended) with the consumer looks like riding his 80-pound bicycle that powers his coffee cart around the streets of Los Angeles, stacked with a 70-pound espresso machine and a 70-pound generator. Stocked with coffee his family in Liberia ships to him, which he often grinds directly in front of the consumer, he explores different areas from Westwood to Century City (he opts to load the bicycle in his truck on longer journeys), updating his audience on social media regularly about where he’ll be next.

From starting a business to managing the unexpected results of viral fame, this is how Garsinii has approached growth and applied learnings along the way.

Using Square to grow a flexible business

For Garsinii, starting a business came with a host of questions, including ‘How should I build a business website?’,‘How should I accept payments?’, and ‘What time of day should I set up shop?’ With the suite of Square tools he invested in, he was able to find answers to all three. He currently uses Square Online to power his website, and he uses Tap to Pay on iPhone to accept payments. Tap to Pay on iPhone makes it easy for him to take his mobile business from place to place without worrying about extra weight on his bicycle, a cluttered workspace on his coffee cart, and long checkout times, all of which can impact the customer experience with a new business. “Square has been our favorite because it has helped us grow,” Garsinii said.

WAFI 3.jpg

So how did Garsinii discover the best time of day to set up shop? He used Square Dashboard. As a new business in a fairly new city (Garsinii also previously lived in New York), he ran into a few hurdles. “We had two down months and were like, ‘Okay, how do we kick it up here?’” Garsinii said, reflecting on the days where he would just come out and hope for the best. He quickly turned to Square Dashboard. “We look at it and we analyze and we see what we can do better,” he said. “The Dashboard is [the basis of] our meeting.”

The Dashboard showed Garsinii and his business partner that Mondays and Thursdays at noon were when he tended to drive the most business, so he shifted his business accordingly and used the other days to brew and roast. “[Now we] use our resources wisely,” he said.

WAFI 5.jpg

Leveraging virality to build purpose

Marketing was another challenge for WAFI. Garsinii admits that social media has never been his strong suit, and in a world where social media can oftentimes be king, it can be tricky to keep customers engaged without it. Luckily, he has a partner who understands it. As a result, he experienced the one thing most business owners dream of — he went viral mere months into his business. 

To Garsinii, the day before felt like a typical day. His girlfriend was recording footage of him grinding coffee beans, riding his 120-pound bicycle and coffee cart through the streets of Los Angeles, and setting up shop for the day. Unbeknownst to him, she turned the footage into an adorable, heartfelt TikTok to help spread the word about her partner’s new business. As of this writing, the post has over 708K views.

“We woke up flooded. Like absolutely barreled with messages of support,” Garsinii said of what they experienced the next day. “I was supposed to actually fly out of town, and then the whole storm broke loose.” The “storm” included supporters who wanted to support the cart in addition to businesses like Lululemon and Alo Yoga who wanted to feature the cart in their events around the city. “[Alo Yoga] did an event with black men who hike in LA’s Canton Park. At the beginning of their hike, we served coffee right before they went on their expedition. It was awesome,” Garsinii said. 

From there, the opportunities for WAFI have continued to grow. He’s been working with the Specialty Coffee Association and World Coffee Research, fueling growth for his business and, furthermore, shedding light on the importance of coffee farms and farmers in West Africa. “Our Iberico coffee species is on the brink of extinction because of a lack of productivity, so working with them to help bring that coffee back has been awesome,” he shared.


WAFI 4 (1).jpg

Farming more than just a dynamic business, but a legacy

For WAFI, the future is bright. Aside from major partnerships, the brand has launched new revenue streams that feature their coffee beans and cold brew, which are sold online and at his coffee cart. They’re also hoping to bring their own cocoa (also farmed on his family farm) to market this fall, launch another coffee cart throughout the streets of New York this year, and eventually bring customers into the coffee-making process in a deeper way. Because for WAFI, it’s about more than business. 

“It’s more than just dishing out coffee. It’s sustaining a crop.

Maya Rollings
Maya Rollings is an editor at Square where she writes about all things customer experience, from building a solid customer base to leveraging tools and technology that meets them where they are in their journey.

More from this series


Tell us a little more about yourself to gain access to the resource.

i Enter your first name.
i Enter your last name.
i Enter a valid email.
i Enter a valid phone number.
i Enter your company name.
i Select estimated annual revenue.
i This field is required.

Thank you!
Check your email for your resource.

Results for

Based on your region, we recommend viewing our website in:

Continue to ->