Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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coffee before we ever touched an espresso machine. The first shot we made was on the machine we bought for Izzy's. "Learning about coffee was hard, we had a lot to learn. But it was hard like how a challenging, interesting class is hard. It was also really fun." "We knew nothing," Rob agrees. "So little that we didn't even realize there was much to learn. There were so few really excellent coffee shops. We had never even seen one. We studied coffee because that would be our main product and we didn't want it to suck." But even Rob admits that, "It wasn't enough just not to suck. There was so much to learn and so many possibilities. We slowly molded Izzy's into what we now saw as our passion. We stopped making sandwiches and serving soup. No more milkshakes. No more chopping vegetables for veggie cream cheese. No more sliced tomatoes. We really just wanted to make coffee." The Advice "Knowing a lot about coffee doesn't necessarily translate into knowing what your service is about, knowing who you're serving to and knowing what your core values are," Jane cautions. "But I've worked for business owners with no experience in their field as well as business owners who were formerly chefs/baristas/bartenders. For those who did become a success, they all seem to share the common ground of knowing what they want out of the business at any given time and being able to adapt to their market yet somehow keep their focus. They were good at cultivating a strong point of view." Andrew says that opening a café business is not so terribly different from prepping for a barista competition, in a way, "only it is a barista competition more intricate and complex, with more variables that challenge more than My goals as "boss" are varied but ultimately simple: support my staff so they can serve our guests. The more support they have the easier it is for them to provide excellent service to our guest. My years of experience help me to empathize with, listen to, and work with the staff with greater precision. Andrew Milstead Even after their transformation, and having sold Izzy's in order to return to Texas to open the Once Over, Rob and Jenee wouldn't time-travel back to get barista jobs before becoming café owners. "If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing," Rob says. "I think owning and running a coffee shop has a lot more to do with management skills, customer service, and employee relations than barista skills. For me, the shop is still a bar. We just open up early in the morning, and we're not all drunk." Jenee agrees—mostly. "There was something really exciting about doing it the way we did it…not having any preconceived notions about how things should or shouldn't be done. We built our shops to run more like bars than coffeehouses, and we like it that way. I'm not sure that would have happened if we had been baristas first." just your ability to make coffee: city inspections, permitting, construction materials, financing, architecture, lease negotiations, hiring, training, menu planning, etc. I would recommend getting organized, be willing to spend a lot of time planning, be willing to allow the process to take longer and cost more than expected, be patient." As a longtime barista himself, Andrew also has a particular perspective when it comes to hiring. "I tend to look for people that love life, that enjoy learning new things, challenging themselves, and above all have a great appreciation for other human beings," he says. "These people tend to be very enterprising and I wouldn't have it any other way. These are the kind of people that have a feeling of ownership in what they do; they are honest, driven, hard working, and kind. It is a truth that they may move on eventually, but while they are with me, their contribution is immeasurably important." www.baristamagazine.com 65

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