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The Circle of Trust Archive

The Circle of Trust is the paid subscriber content for listeners of the Adventures In Design podcast. Containing over 300+ episodes and 500 hours of design, illustration, printing and business tips n tricks. Hear every episode in it’s entirety! The Circle of Trust has the full Adventures In Design audio catalog, featuring every episode with bonus content added or you can choose to go straight to the bonus content. Every topic possible on following your creative passion as a hobby or career has been covered in this collection and we’re not even close to finishing the conversation adding another 200 episodes in 2016. 

636 - ThunderKing

David Defeo


Caffeine is a key component in the creative process and it's due time we meet our muses. Working with an organic cold brewed coffee recipe and a punk rock mentality, ThunderKing has steadily grown into a powerhouse backed by a product no one else comes close to. Mark sits down with Dean and Brian to hear about how Costa Mesa's Caffeine Royalty built their empire from a whole lot of elbow grease into a groundbreaking coffee bar and a sprawling network of stockists. From cash flow to human resources, these guys face all the hurdles any startup can encounter when turning their ideas into a reality. Hear their similar struggles and learn how to apply branding and business acumen to your own career as ThunderKing explores what it takes to make it in the new American Dream. But first, grab yourself a baby wolverine and feel that thunder course through your veins to make sure you don't miss a minute of today's episode.

Talking Points

  • The rise of coffee culture and the difference between iced coffee and cold brew. 
  • Leading a few horses to water and learning the ropes along the way. 
  • A drug dealer's sales techniques.
  • Punk as fuck artisan coffee made one at a time by a hairdresser and an intellectual property lawyer. 
  • Too many visions. Too little time.
  • Not enough information. Not enough quality. 
  • Showing up is just the start. 
  • What one man can do another man can do. 
  • Partners, new people, and figuring out the next steps. 
  • The ThunderKing Coffee Bar, walking away, and one star reviews on opening day. 

Circle Of Trust Talking Points

  • Buying into someone else's dream and seeing potential for a living. 
  • Scouting ThunderKing, calculated risks, and the irreplaceable feeling of accomplishment. 
  • Business acumen on buying into a dream when you've hit a wall where you currently are. 
  • Problems that even money can't solve and making Pinocchio a real boy. 
  • Would ThunderKing sell to Big Beverage for some walk away money?
  • Every Dean needs a Brian. 
  • Branding ThunderKing outside of the Etsy Coffee World and the importance of being yourself in marketing and design. 
  • What is the next destination for the Costa Mesa Kings of Caffeine? 
  • It's a bit easier being green. 
  • Working with your revenue, building with what you have, and finding the numbers that make sense. 
  • The romance and the ritual of coffee. 



Dawn, like Dean, faced a pivot in her career that led her down a different path than she originally intended. With a similar passion to follow her heart this episode is one to always come back to.

When you're in business for yourself there are always some curveballs you never plan for. In Benny Gold's return to AID we hear about his struggle to turn in or double down on what he truly believes in.

Ben and Miranda at Snake Oil Provisions are responsible for bringing ThunderKing into our lives and their story, like many businesses fueled by passion, can teach us a lot about ourselves.