Technology

She sells hundreds of coffeemakers a month. She never has to leave home — or even Instagram.

Jessica Do, founder of Palmpress Coffee, at her Edgewater Home—which also happens to be her office. She makes most of her sales through Instagram.
Jessica Do, founder of Palmpress Coffee, at her Edgewater Home—which also happens to be her office. She makes most of her sales through Instagram. Jessica Do

Miami is home to the most self-employed people in the country.

One of them is Jessica Do, a 30-year-old Pennsylvania native and former wealth manager and tutor. Like many other Magic City solo bosses, Do works from home, in downtown’s Edgewater neighborhood.

But unlike other home offices, Do’s is also a logistics hub. And her storefront, if you want to call it that, is Instagram.

Do is the founder of Palmpress Coffee. She sells a coffee press she and an engineer designed that allows anyone to make home-batch brew. To get their fix, a caffeine fiend fills the press with coffee grounds, then hot water (about 200 degrees Fahrenheit). After three minutes, the coffee is brewed. The user then flips the press and pushes the brew through a built-in filter into their cup.



The design was officially patented a year ago—with the explicit goal of making it Instagram-friendly. In other words: compact, home-compatible, and cute.

“We made it so that we could post quick, demonstrable videos with it — where it would be easy to post pictures of it that allows users to engage.”

The app also allows her to create a more personal connection with her customers. And it’s cheaper than placing on big-box retailers’ shelves.

“A lot of middlemen have leverage,” she said. “They dictate the margin, they have rights to return product, it kind of becomes a money pit.”

For anyone who considers Instagram the domain of selfies and Kardashians, Do shows that one can now build a livelihood entirely around a photo-sharing app. A user who spots a Palmpress ad (@palmpresscoffee) can click “shop” to see how the product works, then place an order with a few taps and a credit card — all without leaving the Instagram app. Do sold about 700 units last month; the presses retail for $39.

Instagram has realized its potential as a sales platform too. This week, the Facebook-owned company announced it was creating a separate Instagram app entirely for e-commerce.

“The app — which may be called IG Shopping — will let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app,” tech site The Verge reported. No launch date has been set.

Do’s targeted audience for Palmpress’ Instagram ads: Anyone who loves coffee. While she imagined Palmpress users as “millennial urbanites,” she soon realized that America’s current obsession with coffee means lots of people are now looking for something new and original in their java fix. Do says Palmpress customers run the gamut, from camping enthusiasts to office drones tired of K-Cups.

“People [are] increasingly drinking higher quality coffee out at specialty shops than what they were drinking at home or at work,” she said. “From the market standpoint, there are interesting gaps to work with.”

For Do, Miami has been an ideal place to open a home office. While she says she loves co-working spaces, they can’t accommodate the pallets of widgets from her manufacturer in China (Palmpress has not been affected by tariffs). Real estate costs are far lower than in New York and London, which allows her and her husband to share space with her products.

As her company grows, she is hoping to find a loft-type space that could accommodate her, and to hire her first employee. She also has collaborated with a local roaster to begin selling coffee itself. She is not seeking outside financing at the moment.

It doesn’t bother Do that she spends most of the day working by herself. She says she has developed contacts she can call for emergency technical issues. But she doesn’t miss office life.

“It’s awesome to have full creative control,” she said. “Even when there are problems or things get hairy, for my style, it works for me to work these things out by myself.”

And while she could have opened her business anywhere, she loves the life she’s created in Miami.

“For a physical product business, [Miami] is so perfect,” she said. “I came from New York, and before that London...and Philadelphia. I would not have had this space or the sunlight, the natural sunlight to work at home to build out a home office, as I would have in other cities because of the space and cost. It’s been absolutely incredible.”

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