Haykin Family Cider is an award-winning small batch cidery founded in 2018. They produce sparkling wine-like ciders from the highest quality apples. All of the ciders are certified kosher with the Scroll K hecksher. The family ships their unique product across the U.S., and it can be found in a variety of restaurants, including two three-Michelin-starred restaurants in California.
It all started as an experiment in cider making, where they scoured local farmer’s markets for the best-in-class apples to ferment, and slowly their hobby turned into a small, juicy business. However, Talia shared that not everything has been easy for their young business. But the challenges they faced helped strengthen their decision making, resulting in important partnerships and more engaged clients. Let’s hear more about what Talia has to say about this and about being a small business owner.
What are some of the biggest hurdles facing the Denver small business community?
There are many – inflation, supply chain issues, and recovering from pandemic-related shutdowns.
One of our biggest challenges is related to supply chain issues. For example, I was just looking at our profit and loss statement the other day. We’re experiencing huge growth, but we don’t have the cash reserves that I would expect from that growth, which leaves me wondering what’s going on?
As I went line by line, I realized that all our costs were going up too. Shipping costs are up and it’s impossible to get trucks to bring supplies. My homeowners association costs, which include some utilities, are up. There is insane inflation across the board. We held out as long as we could to avoid raising our prices but it became impossible. Even online software costs are up.
However, Colorado tends to support small, local businesses. We’re very good about that out here. We take care of our own. We have a lot of customers who are very loyal and willing to pay an increased price for quality goods, which is great.
“Colorado tends to support small, local businesses.”
Did you have to make adjustments in response to inflation?
Things have been different with inflation. We are pretty niche. We will never put our cider in cans. Our cider is basically a sparkling wine made out of apples, and sparkling is the key. We need a champagne cork and wire hood – both of which we get from overseas so there is a pretty long lead time required. Then we need someone to truck it to us. You’re talking about pallets and trucks. Now we are buying bigger bulk shipments of glass, because not only is it cheaper to get a bulk shipment, but we also don’t want to be caught without the supplies we need. At one point during the pandemic in 2020, we could not get corks and wire hoods because they come from France and Portugal, which were shut down.
Mainly the way that we’re adapting is buying in bulk. I don’t ever let myself get close to running out because in the past it’s taken me up to six months to get things back in stock.
We are also moving into different markets for apples. We try to buy as much from Colorado as we can because Colorado apples are exceptional and then we buy from Washington and Oregon secondarily. We have also started buying from Michigan from growers we have known for years. We are looking for exceptional new growers all the time.
When we get apples from out of state, first my husband travels to the orchard to taste the apple and sugar test it. Then when the apples are ripe and picked, they are juiced. Once the juice is ready, we have a company pick up the juice from the orchard, take it to a freezer storage facility, they freeze it and we pay the storage fees, and then when we are ready, we have it shipped to us to make into cider. Learning that level of logistics was challenging. Initially, we wanted to make cider from only Colorado fruit but our climate here is challenging with late frosts, early frosts, and hail in May. In order to grow our business, we needed to expand our grower relationships.
Are there any issues that you would say the small business community in Denver faces that the media doesn’t discuss?
It’s interesting. In addition to being a business owner, my full time job is being a mom to our three kids. I am in a few local mom chat groups and I see how we all consume goods. People are looking for the lowest price and, often, for free shipping because we were trained to think that is not just possible but required. However, shipping is never free and it costs someone money. I will often remind my mom groups to try to buy locally if possible – be it cider or kid supplies. Coloradans are great about buying local in general but there’s a shift happening nationally – I saw it prior to the pandemic but it was seriously heightened during the pandemic when people didn’t want to go into stores. It’s so easy to just “add to cart” but don’t forget to look at that small business’s website first. And don’t be so afraid of paying shipping. In many cases, with our cider, shipping is actually cheaper per bottle when you ship more cider (a half case or a case is cheaper than shipping one bottle).
If we don’t shift our buying to small, local businesses, as inflation rises and the economy gets more challenging, we will see so many people going out of business.
Talia Haykin is the Co-Founder of Haykin Family Cider located in Denver.