[Homeroast] OT: And then there were three....

miKe mcKoffee mcKona at comcast.net
Wed Jun 2 10:33:27 CDT 2010

I know a few have been following my exploits taking coffee professional the
last couple years. At approximately 5pm last Friday finalized closing the
deal on coffeehouse number three. Java Nation Beaverton, OR is now fully
owned by Nor'West Coffee. I'll have to revise my original 10 year business
plan of opening 5 to 6 coffeehouses, one every 2 years, in Clark County, WA.
My original vision was too limited being still impaired by lingering fears
of going head to head with Portland's Stumptown on their home turf. The
gloves are off! Hairbender has already been replaced by Delirium as the main
espresso at Java Nation Beaverton and customer feedback has been excellent.
In just two days I've already heard from some customers what I've heard many
many times before in Clark County, that's the best latte, cappuccino etc.
I've ever had. 

My blinders are off. Most likely Nor'West Coffee will be rebranded as Java
Nation soon. Plans are already in motion for the remodel and July 5th Grand
Re-Opening of downtown Vancouver's Paradise Café as Java Nation. Java Nation
has a much more marketable ring to it than Nor'West Coffee thinking beyond
the borders of Clark County or even the borders of Washington and Oregon.
There are no limits other than those I impose on myself!

Many of you have known Bryan for some time. Bry has been a true God send.
I'd like to share with you a letter I just sent to my staff. (Via our own
private staff email list that operates just like this one! Just discovered I
had it offered by my domain host recently)

Hi Gang,

Don't recall if I ever officially informed you of Bryan Wray's status, other
than his biz cards saying Assistant Bean. :)
Bry is not an employee of Nor'West Coffee, he is a co-owner of Nor'West
Coffee. Bryan is an exceptional young man who's coffee career I've followed
for six or seven years from afar. We'd gotten to know each other over the
years via various online coffee forums. Early last Fall I posted on BX
(BX=Barista Exchange for those of you who aren't on that forum, highly
suggest it), anyway I'd posted I was looking for a coffee professional to
join the team of my young company. Being on the outskirts of the heart of
EspressoDom (Portland of course, not Seattle, depending on who you're
talking to) I fully expected to hear from serious coffee people near by. Yet
almost immediately after posting on BX Bryan contacted me. Strangely (to me)
I was also contacted by someone from Ithaca New York. Over the course of a
number of weeks Bry and I exchanged many lengthy emails and phone calls. A
seemingly insane plan ensued. There had been virtually no discussion of
"what will I be paid" etc. it was about our visions and dreams of the future
in coffee. Bottom line Bry quit his Head Barista position at a place he'd
helped build from the ground up because he'd come to realize his coffee
journey would never go where he wanted it to go there. He simply gave his
notice, tied up affairs in Michigan and drove cross country to help me
finish the build out of the St Johns Roastery Coffeehouse arriving about 8pm
or so December 18th. He called about an hour out, of course I was working on
the build out. I asked if he wanted to go to our house or meet at the
Roastery, Roastery it is. I called Debi and had here pick up pizza and head
over to join us. We met, munched, talked, surveyed the disaster area in
progress, dreamed, dove back into working on the build out as Debi left for
home to go to bed. From that night Friday Dec 18th 'til we opened my 2nd
coffeehouse New Year's Day we worked side by side no kidding averaging 20
hour days. Working on the build out almost round the clock, while I split my
time on the build out and keeping our downtown Vancouver location Paradise
Café running doing the shopping and roasting for there and wholesale
accounts. I've never seen anyone work as hard or long or tirelessly other
than myself. I've been cloned! And at this stage of the game Bry and I had
still had no formal or even informal discussions of monetary compensation
other than I was broke pouring every cent I could beg or borrow into the
build out and he kept saying doesn't matter, it's about the coffee and it'll
work out eventually! Almost six months later Bry still hasn't been paid or
asked for a dime. No he isn't living in his car and going hungry, he was and
still is living with us in our spare bedroom. And he gets some shift tips
from Paradise of course and all tips at the Roastery Coffeehouse whether I'm
working there too or not. Truth be told he has truly become the son we never
could have. While we still haven't gotten the formal paperwork drawn up Bry
is 25% owner of Nor'West Coffee. Because I say so and my word is my bond.
And when Debi & I both continue our eternal journey beyond this temporal
realm he will inherit full ownership. I had actually just started on
legalese paperwork when this Java Nation whirlwind first hit me May 4th so
it's gotten side burnered! While Bry may be young of years he is a force of
nature, wise beyond his years and a phenomenal coffee talent. Sure he's
young and has a lot to learn, and he knows it. Which is one of the many
reasons I respect him so much! I'm gittin to be an old fart yet one thing I
unequivocally know is the more I know the more I know I don't know. And it's
especially true in coffee. 

Some might say Bryan is "lucky" to be given 25% ownership of a young,
growing, surviving the recession on the verge of really thriving coffee
business at such a young age. Wrong. Luck is when hard work and opportunity
meet. Luck is toiling endlessly to exhaustion and beyond with no thought of
recompense other than the far distant possible dream of success, and in his
case success of an enterprise that wasn't even his! Luck is working like you
own it around the clock when you don't own it and then it happens, now you
own it too. Bryan has been "given" nothing, his freely given sweat equity is
being rewarded. It's a truly rare individual who'd have the guts and vision
to leave his family and friends moving across the country to join my young
and struggling company without even a promise of minimum wage! Simply
because he shared my vision. We are both INSANE be warned!

But insane in a good way. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing
over and over and expecting different results. Not that kind of insane.
Cubicles are full of that type of insane. Dreams don't come true in
cubicles, merely bare survival. No, the kind of insane that doesn't follow
the masses. The kind of insane that doesn't believe it when someone says
something isn't possible. The kind of insane that would rather sweat blood
than quit even when the goal seems a far off haze. The kind of insane that
doesn't know when to quit but instead does what needs doing, whether you
feel like it or not, whether you feel like you're on your last breath or

Paradise Café has seen some rough times during this recession yet we've
persevered and kept the doors open. I thank you all for the continual hard
work you do. We're not out of the woods yet but the recession seems to have
bottomed out and beginning it's slow recovery. Yet insanity would be
continuing a business model for Paradise Café that hasn't really worked for
a decade under my and two previous ownerships. The work flow layout is nigh
on to impossible to be efficient and profitable, especially when it comes to
food. I think we all agree on this! Your management team has been over
loaded beyond belief lately with the whirl wind acquisition of Java Nation
Beaverton and will continue to be for some time getting it pulled out of the
quagmire it had been run into, but rest assured YOU are not being ignored!
One of the big hurdles in our plans for re-launching Paradise Café has been
jumped, finally finding a dual zone combination deli/pastry case at a great
price. Our plans are still to have the front bar redone incorporating the
deli case, painting and generally making us look and be new for a Grand
Re-Opening July 5th. AND you will no longer be working for Paradise Café. No
worries, you'll still have your jobs! July 5th Paradise Café will die
forever and be reborn as Java Nation. No longer will you have customers
confusing us with Paradise Bakery or Paradise Pizza. No more where's the
hamburgers, fries, omeletes or pancakes! We ain't no greasy spoon joint so
kickin' the word café out the door! We are a high quality coffee centric
company (hell let's face it, we're fanatics:) that also offers some food,
not the other way around. 

Hold on to your hats, Java Nation Vancouver will finally fully become Clark
County's shining star of the Coffee Culinary World. Prepare to get slammed!

You're a great team. Struggle on just a bit longer with the old ways of
Paradise Café, soon they'll be put to rest forever. Time of her Wake to be
announced at a future time:)

If you've read this far you're as nuts as I am :) Have a Great day!

Slave to the Bean miKe mcKoffee
URL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:

Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.

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