Sipping a delicious cup of tea, coffee, or nibbling delicious chocolate can generate thoughts of beautiful places. While it may not physically take you where you’d like to go, Premium Organic Cafe allows you to buy the ingredients you need to take yourself on a mental vacation from the comfort of your own home.

With Premium Organic Cafe, the name says it all. All of their products are organic, and many of the products are also fair-trade. Customers not only support a small online company that hopes to do a little good by offering quality products, but they help support the people in other countries who work to sell their products through the fair trade market.

Kimberly Ring and Lisa Ballehr were kind enough to answer a few questions about their business and the inspiration behind it.

Tell us a little about Premium Organic Cafe.

We’ve just launched the Premium Organic Café – an online retail store that sells delicious gourmet organic coffees, teas, chocolates, gift boxes and accessories. We search all over the world to find true artisans at their crafts who make their products one batch at a time. We offer the “Monthly Connoisseur Club”; a “Healthy Business Program” – a wellness initiative for businesses to provide employees organic coffee and tea; and the “Never Forget Gift Service” where consumers pre-order gifts for family and friends a year/years in advance and businesses can do the same for clients/employees.

What inspired it?

I have wanted to make the transition to a full-time entrepreneur for years. After being laid off twice in two years from top marketing positions in the hard-hit homebuilding industry, I decided to go for it. I wanted a business with growth potential and staying power that would allow me to give back to the world. I knew it wouldn’t be successful unless I could put my heart behind it.

The growth rates and potential of specialty products, organic and Fair Trade designations as well as online sales became of interest to me. I started looking into the daily luxuries/staples of coffee, tea, and chocolate and liked how throughout history, despite price fluctuations/drought, these products remained the highest consumed in the world.

I started to pull a marketing plan together and during the research phase, found that coffee, tea and chocolate production is highly susceptible to unfairness, child slavery and environmental mismanagement. Focusing on organic and Fair Trade certified products addresses the goal of giving back to the world on a few levels. Organic products are healthier, taste better, and help preserve our environment. The Fair Trade designation means a fair price is paid to the small family farmer, women are paid the same as men, there’s no child slavery involved, and sustainability of community and the environment is the standard practice.

I started sharing my findings with my friend and fellow motorcycle rider, Lisa Ballehr, an Orthopedic Radiologist who was looking for a side business that would satisfy her altruistic goals. After a few trackside conversations, we felt this was a viable idea with good potential and was something we could easily put our hearts behind. (Also who doesn’t want to go through numerous taste tests of delicious chocolate, coffee and tea?) So we teamed up and it’s gone from there.

Besides artisan coffee, what are some of the other products you offer?

We offer artisan crafted teas, chocolates (raw and non-raw), high end accessories and gift baskets. We just launched our own Premium Organic Café brand of coffee and will be bringing on our own tea brand in the next few months.

What separates you from the competition?

To date, we’re the only store – online or physical – that sells all three of these gourmet products in one place. Plus, all of our products are organic and the majority of them are Fair-Trade certified. Some are even triple-certified which includes the “shade-grown or bird-friendly” designation.

What are some of your best selling products? Do you have a personal favorite?

Our gift boxes are quickly becoming our best-sellers. I think people are finding they’re unique and people love receiving them! It couldn’t be an easier gift to send because they can send a “coffee only” gift box or a combination gift of all three gourmet items.

As for a personal favorite? I’m finally starting to settle in on some. For awhile, the next one I sampled became my instant favorite. One of our top selling coffees is the “Funky Chicken” from the Red Rooster Roasting Company. Our Premium Organic Café organic Peruvian Rainforest coffee has a wonderful “chocolaty” undertone in the finish that I love. I adore the Green Pomegranate organic tea – as much for the incredible aroma as the taste. Lulu’s Coconut Cin and Gnosis “SuperChoc” chocolate bars are my current favorites, although it’s hard to choose among all their incredible flavors.

Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish over the next year or so?

To make a successful transition to a full-time entrepreneur – mentally, emotionally and financially. The financial aspect is obvious but mentally, I need to continue shaping my skills to that of a business owner and become more financial and industry savvy. Emotionally means being able to allow balance in life and take a few hours here and there to work on art projects or to hike up in the mountains. It’s hard to do that when you feel like you could work 24/7 and still not get everything done. While I understand I’m more clear-headed and creative for my business when my life is balanced….knowing and doing are two different things.

What are some lessons your business has taught you?

Don’t let anxiety steer the boat. I did that initially and even though we called it a “soft launch,” we really weren’t ready to start. My anxiety to get the business going overwhelmed the logic. While I still do feel the anxiety closing in from time to time, I’ve learned that it only holds me back so it’s best to find the lesson it’s bringing and then kick it to the curb. I suppose you could also call that learning to get out of my own way.

Kimberly, In December 2010, we discussed another venture with you called The Anxiety Wrap. What do you love about working within more than one industry? What are some of the struggles you face?

I am a generalist by nature and thrive on having different interests and tasks. When I worked at advertising and public relations agencies, I usually had two clients to manage in totally different industries. I welcome the opportunity to jump from one business to the other because it keeps me challenged, stimulated and anything but bored. Plus I’m passionate about both industries so I truly couldn’t be happier.

The biggest struggle is not being able to accomplish things as quickly as I’d like. Although that issue would probably still be there even if I only worked on one business.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes. Please tell everyone to go to and order some! And….if you are looking to start your own venture….make sure it’s something you believe in, do your homework to make sure it’s a good idea, then load up on your determination and courage. If you find your determination starts to falter, check with a good, wise friend or two to make sure you’re still on the right track and then go borrow some inspiration from someone else until yours comes back – usually the next day after a good night’s sleep.

Do you have any advice you’d like to offer entrepreneurs interested in selling organic products?

Take the time to get to know and research the companies you’ll be buying product from. Especially when there can be a lot of confusion about organic and Fair Trade designations. You definitely want to be sure you are working with people who believe as strongly as you do in the principles behind those designations. Then you can be confident about the quality and integrity of the products you sell and it will come across clearly.

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