Worth The Wait

My mornings usually start with a stumble into the kitchen. Often I don’t bother turning on the light as I move toward my hot water heater and turn it on. I proceed to measure out coffee, set my burr grinder to the appropriate setting, and prep my pour-over of choice (currently the chemex). While I do this, I often think about how much easier it would be to make my coffee if I already had caffeine running through my veins, keeping me awake. This is the great conundrum. Making good coffee takes time; and making my first cup of coffee seems to take infinitely longer due to my impatience and sleepiness. But oh, that first sip is all worth it.

Doing anything well is usually like that – it takes time. Sure, I could get a Keurig and my mornings would be a lot simpler. I would get caffeine faster and would exert only a small amount of effort. But when I drink that cup, that’s really all it is to me – a quick source of caffeine. All appreciation of the bean is gone and all flavor notes drowned out by the bitterness that generally accompanies it. As much as I don’t feel like making that first cup of coffee in the morning and as much as I think it would be easier to push a button to receive caffeine- deep down I don’t really want that. I want the coffee that takes time. I want the human art that is accompanied with every cup. I don’t want the impersonal machine. In the end, taking time to do something right is always worth it.

This is the lesson I take to this coffee shop. To say that it has been a long time coming is an understatement. Everyone in the process has wanted the project to move faster. Much faster. But good things come to those who wait. And plan. And work. Now, we are about to open the best version of the coffee shop yet. Everything is where we want it to be. Paint has been chosen, furniture has been picked and recipes have been developed. And of course, our coffee beans are on their way. We cannot wait to share our love of coffee with you. We’ll see you soon.


Caffeinating the Millennial Generation

Experts say that a new social generation is born every 10-20 years, and in that time, people not only tend to develop similarities with each other, but also common dissimilarities with other generations. This is significant because as each generation ages, the blend of personality types in the economy shifts. I am a millennial, a generation just on the cusp of substantial professional leadership, and we’ll most certainly leave our mark in the coming years.

We are the product of the positive economic and political climates of the 80’s and 90’s, a time that pushed America to unprecedented superpower status. American society prospered. Advances in communication technology and logistics gave our generation unprecedented tools and access to the globe. We were the first generation raised with computers and the internet. The “Me” generation that raised us basically invented consumerism, so we were fortunate to be raised in an environment rich with material possessions. For us though, what became important was not just acquiring more things, but sharing them. And the internet unlocked sharing like never before. Facebook, twitter, tumblr, snapchat. These are nothing more than platforms to share feelings, ideas, places and objects with one another. Think of the amateur hiker who climbs his or her first mountaintop. Or the parents who records their baby’s first words. You betcha they’re posting those photos and videos as soon as they can. Why? Because they want to share the experience! In previous generations, sharing was limited to those present, and that has completely changed. We are the generation of “shared experiences”, and it’s how we prefer to spend our time and money.

I anticipate that in the future, as more and more millennials make it into leadership, we will see more innovation in the realm of experiential services, both in the digital-frontier, and the real world. Discretionary income will move away from long-term material goods like cars and spacious homes, and towards life experiences like travel and hobbies. So how can a millennial entrepreneur capitalize, if not also encourage, this burgeoning segment of the service industry? Let’s take coffee shops for example:

If you look at a coffee shop today, modeled after the Starbucks era, it remains a very individual experience. The orders are individually made, named and delivered. The café tables are generally designed for two seats, and couches and benches always have that awkward gap between customers as each minds their own business. I’m glad this arrangement exists, in fact I’m using such an environment now to write this, but what if we create another style of shop that incorporates the millennial idea of “shared experience”.

Interactivity. It’s a principle rarely encountered in coffee shops I’ve visited, and I’ve visited a lot. What if it were the centerpiece? Let’s make it educational, and let’s enable people to share a real-world experience together. Let’s make coffee the destination, and the process, the journey. Imagine a coffee shop that allows you to participate in the coffee-brewing, not dissimilar to a fondue restaurant that allows you to be your own chef. By creating an environment that fosters interactive, shareable experiences, you’re creating an opportunity for a group, rather than just the individual. It has the potential to compete with, or supplement, movie theaters, bowling alleys, clubs and restaurants in entertaining the nightlife crowd. Like a brewery tour that lets you brew your own beer while you’re there. That’s certainly something I’d like to do. Will you join me?


Justin Will, guest blogger


You, Me and the Great American Coffee Revival

The art of coffee has not reached its peak, and I believe the industry is at a crucial tipping point of a cultural explosion, particularly in America. Despite its history of short-sighted coffee ventures, e.g. Dunkin Donuts or any brand of instant coffee, America has a burgeoning fascination with the finer elements of coffee.  Go to any modern cultural-revival city like Detroit, MI or Portland, OR and you’ll find an incredible slew of coffeehouses that boast high-quality Arabica beans that are locally-roasted and expertly cupped.

Coffee to me has always been about far more than just the taste. I’ve only been drinking it for six years or so, but I’ve been frequenting coffee shops for far longer. I’m what one might call a “coffeehouse tourist”, and whenever I travel to a new city, I visit a least 3 or 4 local establishments. There’s something extra-ordinary about a well-done coffee shop – it’s like a home away from home. It’s an experience that transcends cultures, creating an atmosphere of peace and familiarity in even the most unlikely locations. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t underachievers out there, but thanks to the advent of services like TripAdvisor and Yelp, it’s easier to find the right places.

Coffee Shop Characteristic Logos

So what makes a place right? Well, aside from the normal recipe of comfy seats, cheap prices, good coffee and authentic atmosphere, I believe there is an additional element that can disrupt the market for the better. And it will be that last piece that pushes the cultural explosion over the tipping point. This element is “interactivity”, and it is the reason I care enough to invest my time, money and effort in coffee.

Coffee is not like other gastronomic hobbies, or obsessions. First of all, in some form or another, it’s consumed by a very significant portion of the world. It’s a drug (caffeine), but is so beyond socially accepted that it’s often considered an essential daily requirement for productivity. Try and take away the coffee pot at your local office building and see what happens. I bet it won’t take long for a full riot to break out. And furthermore, coffee is extremely affordable. It’s generally well-within the budget for most working adults, which continues to feed the aforementioned productivity cycle.

So for a product that is so proliferate, and so affordable, how can we further improve on the existing recipe for a successful coffee culture? I think it’s a matter of engagement and convenience, the latter of which has seen stateside improvement as more and more coffeehouses pop up across my country. Starbucks did a great job bringing coffeehouses into the mainstream, but because of its size, risks becoming overly commercial at the expense of customer engagement.


To me, engagement refers to “gastronomic pride and ownership”. I believe that if customers can find a convenient way to involve themselves with the foodstuffs they are putting in their body, it will resonant stronger with them and thereby encourage a change in behavior. When it comes to coffee, the average American consumer is significantly under-educated. But in today’s world, true coffee appreciation has many barriers to entry, similar to any other hobby beverages like scotch, wine, beer, etc. But it doesn’t need to. Coffee is not as complex as a scotch whisky, and therefore should be easier to access and appreciate for the amateur consumer. It is wholly possible to enjoy a coffee not because you can identify each note of flavors, but because you recognize and appreciate the process by which it was created. And THAT is where coffee has an advantage over the other hobby drinks. Besides the actual cultivation, coffee can be made in one sitting, right before your eyes. It’s the only one where time is not of the essence. In other words, coffee is accessible because its process is accessible.

Which brings me to my vision for the future of coffee: interactivity. I believe it is possible to design a new type of coffeehouse that sets interactivity at the center of the model, allowing customers to physically take part in the process of roasting, grinding, pressing and cupping their beverages. This element of inclusion will forever connect the consumer, even the novice, with the product and create a whole new sense of engagement with their caffeine intake.


Justin Will, guest blogger

Coffee Variations