Who are you and what do you do here?
I’m a lot of things; a business owner, a coffee roaster, and when I came here I was a caregiver for my mother. So, my mother passed, but I’m still a caregiver. That’s just a part of my personality. I’m a people person, I LOVE people. Especially here [at the Factory], they’re so diverse. Having come here and been around such a wide variety of different people, I’ve become more open-minded toward different lifestyles. I try to work on being non-judgmental, the unlearning is the hardest part.
How long have you been with the Pajama Factory?
In a few short days, it’ll be five years.
Did you grow up in the area? If not, when and why did you move to this area?
I literally sleep in my childhood bedroom. I live in the house I grew up in, which is three blocks away.
What was your experience with coffee roasting before you opened your establishment?
I worked in a print shop, buying whole bean coffee from the coffee shop up the street, trying to figure out what I was going to do to retire, because the printing industry was changing. The coffee shop down the street that I went to every day was closing, so I decided I would make it myself. I did all the research and figured out how to roast my own coffee. I built my first roaster, and I really had no intentions of opening a coffee shop, but one day it worked. I looked at my brother and said, “I’m going to open a coffee shop.” And three years later – I was here. I started with a table and a tent and worked at music festivals, anywhere I could set something up. I never thought I had what it took to open my own business, and it definitely takes some discipline, but it’s fun.
Tell me the story of Way Cool Beans. Why did you open, and why did you choose to open here?
The completely honest answer is, I don’t know. I knew there was some stuff over here, and I was just kinda drawn to it. I wanted to be down where the woodshop is, or around the corner. I didn’t know anything about the building. Barb [Andreassen] and Mark [Winkelman] pushed this spot on me, because it had plumbing and gas and had been empty for some time. I actually said no three times until I finally decided to be here. After being here, it became really obvious to me why I wanted to be here. It’s partly because of the community, partly because people meet here, a lot of things happen in here. I’m kind of a facilitator, not really by choice, it just kind of happens. It’s just the energy of the place. For example, there was a lawyer sitting here and also a guy who wanted to start a music festival, but he needed a lawyer. And they just happened to both be here. I live in a constant state of amazement but I’m never surprised anymore. It’s amazing, but it’s common. These things happen all the time if you pay attention.
What core value drives your business?
Getting people together. This is a great place for people to stop and breathe. Everyone is in a hurry, everyone has something to do. Everyone is goal oriented, which isn’t a bad thing, but if you’re so goal-oriented while you’re trying to get there, you’re missing life. It’s the journey, not the destination. It’s about the now. Everyone says the same thing to me: “The seats are so comfortable in here.”
What do you love most about what you do?
I do it for me. I’m not working for someone else, [so] it doesn’t feel like work. I don’t feel like I need to retire. I hang out all day. That’s what I do for a living. I brew coffee, but for the most part, it almost never feels like work. Since my mother’s passed, my brother comes and has lunch with me every day here so we’ve gotten closer.
What are your hopes for the future of Way Cool Beans?
Actually, I hope to really keep doing what I’m doing, but more of it. My intentions for the physical part of the shop – I’d like to do a facelift. I’ve started some things cosmetically. I’m working on getting into a few more restaurants. I’m working on making deliveries. I’d like to put together a coffee trailer – like a food truck, but for coffee, so I can go to events and hang out. Hiring more employees is a goal in the future as well.
What’s your current go-to drink?
Believe it or not, I drink more water than anything. Sumatra is my everyday coffee. Probably my favorite is the Hawaiian Kona, but it’s expensive.