I have been to almost every indy coffee shop in the Twin Cities, and I have talked with about half of the owners. I find it intersesting that most of them claim to have a unique shop that offers somthing different than anyone else. I want to know what the rest of the US is doing to truly be unique?

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i have a 400 pound portafilter outside my shop, that's pretty unique
I think Jared's claim to difference is pretty unique! Our International School cafe employees only staff from underprivilleged backgrounds. We have one staff member who was living on a scavenger site before joining us, the rest are former streetkids and orphan, abandoned children. This idea came about because we had been working with a NGO which oversees some projects working with these groups. We were fortunate enough to employ some staff earlier on who really appreciated the opportunity to work and excelled with training at their jobs. Their commitment encouraged us to take a bigger step and staff an entire store with people from these various backgrounds. In Indonesia someone from a scavenger site has almost no chance of escaping the poverty cycle- no matter their ability. We are so glad we took these staff on- they have become almost like family to us. In all cases they have proven to have exceeded our expectations.
I'd be interested to know what the differences the owners stated and whether or not they lived up to those difference? And, did those "differences" really make a difference?
Wow Alun, that is unique thanks for sharing.

Alun Evans said:
I think Jared's claim to difference is pretty unique! Our International School cafe employees only staff from underprivilleged backgrounds. We have one staff member who was living on a scavenger site before joining us, the rest are former streetkids and orphan, abandoned children. This idea came about because we had been working with a NGO which oversees some projects working with these groups. We were fortunate enough to employ some staff earlier on who really appreciated the opportunity to work and excelled with training at their jobs. Their commitment encouraged us to take a bigger step and staff an entire store with people from these various backgrounds. In Indonesia someone from a scavenger site has almost no chance of escaping the poverty cycle- no matter their ability. We are so glad we took these staff on- they have become almost like family to us. In all cases they have proven to have exceeded our expectations.
Is that for water filtration... and did you paint it to look like a giant coffee bean??? If not you should.

Jared Rutledge said:
i have a 400 pound portafilter outside my shop, that's pretty unique
I'm with you Jay, great questions and I hope we get a few people to chime in.

Jay Caragay said:
I'd be interested to know what the differences the owners stated and whether or not they lived up to those difference? And, did those "differences" really make a difference?
We are unique in our small town / city of approx. 2K. Besides being commercial coffee roasters, we have an organic whole wheat bakery. All wheat is milled just before baking. We also do wine tasting and offer wines from the area and some from California. The key here with our wines is they are not sold elsewhere in our town. Most are rated high and temperature controlled so they are ready for the collector.
We put roast dates on all our coffee bags and only do foil bags in our store and some jars and foil bags for the local grocery store. We have a nice piano for customers who feel so inclined to play and also use it for entertainment nights.
We are your classic MaPa shop so you are only looking at on site owners when you come into our store. This may change as we grow up so to speak.
All I can think of for now....
Joe
--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
Actually Caleb, I was talking to you!

Since you said that you've been to almost every shop in the Twin Cities and talked with half of their owners - what did they think made their shops unique and stand out? Did their shops live up to their claims? How would you evaluate these shops that you've visited?
We make hard to find pastries and cakes in our shop. I guess you can call us the ultimate coffee and dessert place in SFL. Besides, everyone else uses Segafredo or Lavazza, so we have peanuts for independent coffee shops around here period.
Sorry Jay, I can be a little inept at times... The reson that I posed this question in the first place is because I feel that most coffee shop owners seem to have a little bit of a jaded view about what they offer. We do have some truly outstand shops in the TC's and the owners of those shops have put their stake in the ground and laid claim to what they think a coffee shop should be. A great is example is a shop in south St. Paul, their claim is that they are the coffee experts in the metro, and in my opinion they deliver. You get an education about coffee when you go to this shop, and probably the best coffee in town. Another shop that I really like basically makes the claim that they are the hub of their neighborhood, and it's true, this is the place where everyone in that neighborhood goes and everyone knows everyone. This is a very rare concept in a major metropolitan area. So back to my origional point...most coffee shop owners think that they have done somthing really great... when all they have actually done is create another space that has bad art hanging on the walls, and missmatched furniture. In a space that happens to serve coffee.

Soooo.... the conversation that was hoping to start with all of this, is to find the people that have really raised the bar or should I say steam wand. So to answer your question completely Jay, I think that only about 5% of the shops/owners that I know have truly achieved what they set out to do in the begining. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion, and I'm not out the bash on anyone, I am just looking for exceptional and creative!

PS
sorry about my spelling... it's not so good

Jay Caragay said:
Actually Caleb, I was talking to you!

Since you said that you've been to almost every shop in the Twin Cities and talked with half of their owners - what did they think made their shops unique and stand out? Did their shops live up to their claims? How would you evaluate these shops that you've visited?
That is truly amazing. You will be blessed for your efforts!

Alun Evans said:
I think Jared's claim to difference is pretty unique! Our International School cafe employees only staff from underprivilleged backgrounds. We have one staff member who was living on a scavenger site before joining us, the rest are former streetkids and orphan, abandoned children. This idea came about because we had been working with a NGO which oversees some projects working with these groups. We were fortunate enough to employ some staff earlier on who really appreciated the opportunity to work and excelled with training at their jobs. Their commitment encouraged us to take a bigger step and staff an entire store with people from these various backgrounds. In Indonesia someone from a scavenger site has almost no chance of escaping the poverty cycle- no matter their ability. We are so glad we took these staff on- they have become almost like family to us. In all cases they have proven to have exceeded our expectations.
So how did the Experts give you an education while you were there? We are looking to do something like that realizing most of our customers know zero about espresso and zero about organic coffee. We are in a drive thru setting and wondered if we should put some info on a biz card ... I have some things about organic coffee on a flyer in the window.

Caleb said:
Sorry Jay, I can be a little inept at times... The reson that I posed this question in the first place is because I feel that most coffee shop owners seem to have a little bit of a jaded view about what they offer. We do have some truly outstand shops in the TC's and the owners of those shops have put their stake in the ground and laid claim to what they think a coffee shop should be. A great is example is a shop in south St. Paul, their claim is that they are the coffee experts in the metro, and in my opinion they deliver. You get an education about coffee when you go to this shop, and probably the best coffee in town. Another shop that I really like basically makes the claim that they are the hub of their neighborhood, and it's true, this is the place where everyone in that neighborhood goes and everyone knows everyone. This is a very rare concept in a major metropolitan area. So back to my origional point...most coffee shop owners think that they have done somthing really great... when all they have actually done is create another space that has bad art hanging on the walls, and missmatched furniture. In a space that happens to serve coffee.

Soooo.... the conversation that was hoping to start with all of this, is to find the people that have really raised the bar or should I say steam wand. So to answer your question completely Jay, I think that only about 5% of the shops/owners that I know have truly achieved what they set out to do in the begining. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion, and I'm not out the bash on anyone, I am just looking for exceptional and creative!

PS
sorry about my spelling... it's not so good

Jay Caragay said:
Actually Caleb, I was talking to you!

Since you said that you've been to almost every shop in the Twin Cities and talked with half of their owners - what did they think made their shops unique and stand out? Did their shops live up to their claims? How would you evaluate these shops that you've visited?

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