May 2023

When the County was Ablaze, Alaniz Gave Coffee to Firefighters

In a world ruled by big corporations, Eddie Alaniz had the radical idea to take charge of his own fate. Eddie built the brand Coffee Conspiracy, deriving inspiration from the idea of cultivating community and using coffee as the vehicle for counterculture.

Eddie set out in Aptos on a bike armed with homemade cold brew and coffee beans in July of 2020. Born and raised in Campbell, Eddie, 40, first fell in love with coffee at 17 when he got his first job at Peet’s Coffee. He was immediately enamored with coffee culture, and now roasts his own coffee at a co-op in Oakland and sources his beans from single origin traceable farms in Colombia and Peru.

Coffee Conspiracy has evolved through many stages: starting as a bike pop up at Seacliff Beach and roaming the streets of Aptos to a takeover of Central Coast Juicery downtown Santa Cruz.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the country,” he says, “They create a way of life for people and remove power from the corporations. When you support a small business, you’re supporting someone’s hopes and dreams.”

The coffee shop is a quirky environment that invites conversation and critical thinking. Painted on the wall is one of Eddie’s favorite George Orwell quotes, “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” from Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ published in 1949.

For Eddie that means,“For the times we’re living in, it’s easy to go along with the narrative and mass consensus… if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”.

Eddie was inspired to follow his entrepreneurial dreams after getting laid off during the early stages of Covid. “I never want to get laid off again, I want to be in charge of my own fate,” he says.

When the lightning fires came during August through September of 2020, he was unable to sell his batches of cold brew. He heard from a friend that firefighters were staying in the Seacliff Inn and dropped off his cold brew there. Eddie was shocked to later find that firefighters were being served Folger’s instant coffee on the frontline. He dedicated the entirety of his product, later getting coffee beans from local businesses and getting sponsorships through Instagram for oat milk, to producing coffee for frontline firefighters. For two weeks during the fires, he prepared and donated 1,000 bottles of coffee creating gift boxes for fire stations and 911 call centers.

Eddie is a long time conspiracy theorist and truth seeker. When his older sister, Maura, gifted him “Behold a Pale White Horse” by William Cooper in high school, “the matrix was broken” for him.
Eddie believes in an ethical business model: he serves exclusively organic and GMO free products that are sustainably sourced.

“Businesses can be both ethical and profitable,” he says.

Being an entrepreneur brings three words to Eddie’s mind: grit, fortitude and stamina.

“To the crazy, the normal is insane,” he says. “To start a brand you have to be crazy because you have to see something nobody else does.”

Coffee Conspiracy is located downtown at 111 Locust Street, Santa Cruz, open Monday through Friday 9am to 3pm and weekends 9am to 4pm.

By Daniella Blomquist

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