Community helps West Chicago coffee shop after big deal falls through


WEST CHICAGO, Ill. — A west suburban couple has gone from desperation to elation in the matter of a week.

Marcus Contaldo and Jenni Trilik own Modest Coffee Roasters and a huge order that should’ve led to better days went from good to worse.

But a simple social media blog exploded and now they’re all abuzz with good vibrations.

After reaching a deal with a broker and a distributor, Modest Coffee got an offer they couldn’t refuse: A chance to sell their premium product on Walmart’s website.

The married couple and parents of three are nine years into the business of specializing in single-orgin coffee.

The couple estimated they would need to get the distributor about 6,000 bags, about a three months supply. The caveat was they wouldn’t get paid until the roasted beans were received at Walmart’s distribution centers throughout the U.S.

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So, they hired more staff.

“We thought this would happen within a few weeks,” Trilik said.

But due to the dreaded communication breakdown and no fault of their own, they ended up with 36,000 bags and no payment until it was all sold.

Months down the line and endless wrangling back and forth, the deal was off.

“So we’re seven months into this, they’re like ‘Come pick up this coffee or donate it,’” Trilik said.

And the coffee was sent back.

“So now we have pallets and pallets,” Trilik said. “30 some odd pallets of coffee filled nine feet tall of coffee, and what do we do?”

With bills to pay, $200,000 in credit card debt, payroll to meet and a family to feed, and three daughters who also work at the home-grown business, it was time to think outside the box.

This while still servicing their 130 existing customers of independent grocers on down to the corner coffee shops across the city and suburbs.

“An incredibly stressful set of months and weeks,” Trilik said.

They shared their story on social media, explaining their ordeal.

They offered their coffee at half off, about $8 for a pretty hefty bag. Their calls for help were answered.

It started as a blog post and took off from there to social media.

“It spread like wildfire,” Trilik said. “It was amazing after all of this to get this incredible support.”

That was a week ago.

Now, they are mostly sold out and can finally breathe a little easier.

“Complete strangers on the internet placing one-box orders,” Contaldo said. “I think about it, I want to cry every time. It has restored my faith in humanity.”

Trilik and Contaldo said sometimes all you have to do is put it out there.

“Most people, if you give them an opportunity to help and they trust you, I really do feel that [they’re] gonna try and help,” Contaldo said.

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