You can find Sergio Molina and his Esperanza Coffee Collective booth at the Kenosha Public Market every Saturday and at his Esperanza Coffee Collective drive-thru at The Branch, 1501 Washington Ave., Racine Sunday through Friday.
While the business is doing well — and constantly growing — he’s hoping to keep expanding.
“I have big dreams for the future,” he said during a brief break from serving customers on Friday morning. “I hope to have additional locations in Kenosha and Racine and continue to build relationships with other companies.”
As part of this strategy, Molina participated in the TV show “Project Pitch It,” a Wisconsin TV show that follows the “Shark Tank” format. Each week, three entrepreneurs present their business pitches to the judges and compete for one of three prizes. Season six airs Saturdays at 10:35 p.m. on WISN-TV in Milwaukee and repeats on Sunday mornings. Molina is set to appear on the April 16 episode.
Those awards include money and mentoring opportunities, and it was a mentor who encouraged Molina to pitch “Pitch It.”
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“I was working to get credit for my business and was working with a WWBIC advisor,” Molina said. “She suggested that I enroll in the program.” is an organization focused on serving women, people of color, those of lesser wealth and veterans with credit, coaching and business training.
Luckily, Molina already had a pitch deck presentation he created for a WWBIC business accelerator class.
A “pitch deck,” he explained, “is a statement of your company as you would present it to potential investors.”
His pitch worked and he was selected for this season of Project Pitch It.
He filmed his episode in December and when asked how his pitch went in front of the TV show’s judges, Molina laughs and says, “I might have passed out a little bit.”
Once he’s done his presentation, “then the judges ask a lot of questions, and it goes in a different direction.”
Overall, he said participating in the TV show was “a great experience.”
roots in coffee
Molina was born and raised in Kenosha — he graduated from Tremper High School in 2014 and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he majored in business administration and accounting — but his family roots lie in the small town of Acatenango, Guatemala, where his Grandfather began to grow coffee beans.
“My mom grew up on the coffee farm, and we used to visit her a lot when I was growing up,” he said, adding, “Everyone in this town is connected to the coffee business in some way. We would return to Kenosha with two suitcases full of coffee.”
After college, Molina worked as an internal auditor at Modine Manufacturing in Racine, “where I learned a lot and developed a lot of business skills.”
Despite this, he dreamed of running his own business.
“I started doing a lot of soul research,” he said. “I moved to Guatemala and lived with my uncle on the coffee farm and learned a lot about growing coffee beans.”
Back in Wisconsin, he worked as a barista for two years to learn the coffee business before founding Esperanza Coffee Collective in 2018.
“I love connecting the business with my family — and with other local businesses,” said Molina. “The coffee beans come from our family’s farm in Guatemala and the beans are roasted by Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. in Milwaukee.”
Even the company name Esperanza has a special meaning.
“Esperanza was my grandmother’s middle name,” Molina said. “It means ‘hope’ in Spanish, and we hope for business.”
The hope theme continues in the company’s butterfly logo, designed by Brittany Parshall.
“I see a lot of opportunities here in the Kenosha and Racine area,” Molina said. “Collaborating with other entrepreneurs is key, as is patience and perseverance. That’s what I tell people about starting a business: It’s hard work, but just keep going.”