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SP9 Finalist Number 4 – Union Hill Coffee


Union Hill Coffee

Sweat pours off my brow as I use a kettle to make individual, hand poured cups of coffee. It is 7:35 AM and there are five people in line looking at their cell phones. I’m sure they are checking the time (again) or worse, logging in to Yelp to leave another snarky review about the wait at my coffee shop. I pray that the next customer orders an espresso, or better yet anything in a bottle. I struggle to keep up a conversation with Julie who ordered the two drip coffees I’m pouring.

“So what do you think I should say to my mother-in-law?”, she asks as I check both the timer and the two scales in front of me.

Which is the better response? “Even though it looks like I was listening, I have no idea what you said because I was working to ensure that these two cups of coffee were poured in the correct manner.” or “Hmmmm, whatever you think is best?”

This is the nightmare that has kept me up late at night for the last year as I have worked to open my first cafe.

I believe in brewing individually-made coffee for customers. I want to feature the single origin coffees that my partner, Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. has worked hard to source and roast. I’m worried that hand pouring, when it is just me in a brand-new cafe, will frustrate customers. I experienced this in 2014 when I opened a small, pop-up stand at a local farmers market. Customers appreciated the personal service, but I soon learned how difficult it is to focus on both the customer and the hand-poured coffee.

The alternative is just as bleak. It may take me hours to use up a gallon of batch brew. I want to sell bags of beans to every customer, but they will never get excited about single origin coffees if their only exposure to a small farm offering from Costa Rica was brewed several hours prior.

I am opening my cafe in the small town where I grew up. This is the first time I’ve designed a coffee shop and my first experience at running a storefront business. I have tried to see it from both the employee side and from the customer’s point of view. Before this, I had never submitted plans to a health department (they realized this very quickly) or drawn plumbing plans for the city. I’m still trying to figure out how to remove 20 year old paint from my concrete floor! At times I feel totally overwhelmed.

In all of this uncertainty, I know one thing to be true. The Marco SP9 is the perfect solution for my new cafe. It will allow me to offer consistent, individual cups of coffee while still connecting with each and every customer, distraction free. I can put all of my focus on the customer because I know that this machine will produce the very best coffee again and again.

Author: Troy Carle