Business Lift Up: Jesse’s Grind
When she was younger, Jesse Santana’s first experience with coffee was a double shot espresso made by a friend while they worked together at a popular coffee shop. That caffeinated experience set the course to her journey of owning her very own coffee shop. And she hasn’t looked back since. Today, Jesse is the owner of Jesse’s Grind, a coffee shop on Saticoy St. and Winnetka Ave.
“The coffee business, I’ve always wanted to do it but never got the chance to do it. My schedule wouldn’t allow me but once I got laid off, I finally had A LOT OF TIME. So, it was kind of like a blessing in disguise if you will,” shares Jesse about how things started.
Her wife gifted her an espresso machine for her birthday because she knew how much Jesse wanted to start her coffee business. Jesse got to work and started experimenting with making drinks. She started sharing her creations with family and friends and asked for their feedback.
In May 2020, a friend suggested doing a pop-up on the street. Jesse was a little hesitant at first, but she started setting up her coffee bar three days before the event: creating a coffee cart to instead of simply setting up a table. At that time, she had about 50 followers on Instagram. She was surprised to see all 50 followers at the event. They loved her coffee and the coffee cart look and everything just took off from there.
Jesse participated in a lot of outdoor house pop-ups to test out her products and to get feedback from her customers. One of her favorite events was the monthly San Fernando Outdoor markets that started off with only six vendors and eventually grew to more than 60 vendors, complete with entertainment, car shows, at the San Fernando Outdoor Mall.
“I came in to support my friend Julia, from Knead for Dough wo was a vendor at the time. A couple of months later and it (the event) just kept growing and growing. It’s my favorite event to be at. We started just growing from there and people just kept on lining up…I never look up when I have a line. I’m actually focused. I don’t look up because I start getting nervous and when I start getting nervous, I make mistakes. If you ever notice, my wife is always taking the orders. But I’ll never look up. But I promise I’m happy, I’m just really focused on what I’m doing,” said Jesse.
In July of 2022, Jesse finally made her dream into a reality and opened a brick-and-mortar Jesse’s Grind—a name she and her best friend came up with—in Winnetka. Her coffee drinks reflect her Mexican heritage, revolving around the concept of cafecito and pan.
“It just hit me. Like, it just hit me last week—I literally have a coffee shop now. My goal was to take it one cup at a time, literally. 2019 I started and now we’re in 2022. It’s crazy. It’s surreal. I can’t believe I have a coffee shop,” Jesse shares her thoughts on her coffee shop.
When asked where she sees the coffee shop in the next couple of years, Jesse comments, “My mind doesn’t stop going. We do want to open multiple locations—but not too many, because that’s too much. I don’t want to be overworked. I still want to enjoy what I do. I noticed as a business owner, you kinda get taken away from what you actually want to do which means not making coffee and stuff. Because you must be in every other aspect of the business.”
Jesse continues to work as a legal assistant while owning her own coffee shop to ensure that bills still get paid and that she still has a lifeline just in case. As far as advice to future entrepreneurs: “It’s not giving up. The older I got, the more goals I set for myself. I’m not a quitter. That’s the advice I got from a lot of business owners: don’t give up. And, when they say that, you’re like, “Oh, Okay.” But honestly, there will be moments where you would want to, but you just have to keep at it and keep going. You’re going to have bad times, good times, stressful ones but just stick to your goals. Never give up. It’s an actual thing.”