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Cafe Focus: The CoffeeSmith

Tell us about your shop, The Coffeesmith, and what makes you guys unique? 

 The Coffeesmith’s goal is to fill the gap between second wave and third wave coffee. While we are not as intense as third wave shops, we serve traditional espresso drinks and attempt to push the envelope on unique flavor combinations.  At the same time, we also make sweet drinks like mochas and chai lattes and make them stand above the big chain coffees by our attention to detail.

What’s the best thing on the menu, in your opinion?

The best thing on the menu is the Pablo Honey.  People love the simplicity and all natural ingredients.

So, you guys use Friedrichs beans, but what is the one or two items you couldn’t (could be equipment or supplies personnel etc.) that you couldn’t function without? 

  Our greatest resources are our baristas and ambiance.  People can get coffee anywhere, but people really want to feel a sense of belonging.  Everyone should feel like the cool kid when they walk into your shop.  Our baristas, above all else, are friendly and treat everyone with respect.  You can teach almost anyone to sling spro, but you can’t teach kindness.  Everything in our shop, from our music to our seating, is done intentionally to create an ambiance that takes the customer out of their ordinary life and to something extraordinary, even if just for a while. 

What are the biggest challenges you face as you enter into year 2 of your coffee shop?    

We started off very successful in our first year, but year two is a year for growth.  We would like to see a 50% increase in our second year, so figuring out how to bring that growth in is our biggest challenge for year two.

What’s been the biggest learning opportunity you’ve had? 

Being my own Human Resource director has been the biggest learning opportunity that I have had.  From hiring to dealing with conflicts and fitting baristas schedules together like a puzzle that seems to be missing a few pieces, HR continues to be my biggest area for growth.

How do you stay engaged and updated with the newest cafe and coffee trends? 

Whenever I am near another coffee shop, I scout it.  I always try to find something on the menu that I have never heard of and order it. I pay attention to what they are doing well and what they are doing poorly.  My baristas also keep me up to date with what they are seeing on social media.

What is the next step for The Coffeesmith?  

Everyone is always asking if The Coffeesmith is going to open a second location, but I feel like we need to really establish our brand and our culture before we consider that kind of expansion.  Our next step is continued growth so that when the opportunity to expand comes, we are ready for it.

Nate Kempers: Cafe Owner

The intent of our Cafe Focus series is to empower and share experiences from real cafe owners. These owners do not get any special endorsement for participating in our Cafe Focus. If you or someone you know has something to share and offer other cafe owners, please contact us.