|Me, age six, making a latte for career day|
Coffee came into my life at a pretty young age. Although I didn’t drink either coffee or espresso based drinks I did decide to pull shots for career day and sport a Starbucks t-shirt. Why did I decide to be a barista for career day? I’m not totally sure, but you can read a little story about it here.
It would be another 7 years before coffee and I met up again. This time I was turning 13 and it was a tradition in the our family (I’m the youngest of 4) for Dan (but we just call him dad) to usher each child into our teens over a cup of coffee. As fate would have it my dad took us to a Starbucks for a vanilla latte (or it may have been french vanilla). It wasn’t quite love at first-sip, in fact I didn’t even finish the cup but gave it to my dad.
Even though I didn’t like it then, there was a lot that attracted me to coffee even at a young age. It was a really special outing with my dad, a coming of age. For a moment, over a cup of coffee, we shared our first adult activity. What I love about coffee is that it involves all the senses and opens the door to countless conversations.
|Me (age 17) and a teacher talking about my Coffee Mobile|
Fast-forward 4 (awkward high school) years and I have just finished creating a mobile for high school. You know the kind, they are usually of the solar system or some other science theme. Well the theme that I chose was coffee. The mobile was a real eye-catcher at the science expo for the coffee-loving-passer-bys. Hope you can see it there in the background of the picture above and below.
|Coffee Mobile, circa 2003|
I was finally properly introduced to coffee when my mom bought a drive-thru and I started making delicious drinks there. It was the fall of 2003 at Le Petit Poulet, in Covington. Le Petit Poulet (French for ‘the little chicken’) was a simple drive-thru attached to my mom’s home decor store, Three French Hens. It was family-run in every sense of the word. The stand was staffed by my brother, 2 sisters, and 2 friends of ours. As staff we had the fortune of being trained by Sarah Dooley.
|Me at ‘Le Petit Poulet’ 2004|
Those were the days. I didn’t realize it then but working in coffee would become more than a job for me. Even when I tried leaving the coffee industry (multiple times) I kept hanging out at coffee shops and eventually got sucked back into pulling shots.
|Me smiling and experimenting at ‘There Ya Go! Espresso’ in Maple Valley 2010|
Fast forward a few more years, the family drive-thru is gone and I am thirsty to make coffee again. I take a job as the weekend closer at a drive-thru and end up the lead barista and trainer. It was at this specific time in my life and at this location where I started having fun with coffee. If you are curious you can follow some of the crazy things I used to do here (post coming soon).
|Future business ideas from my imagination 2010|
It was also during this time that I also set my sights on owning a shop. After visiting Coffee Fest Seattle I was invited by the president, David Heilbrunn, to attend Coffee Fest Minneapolis and go to Fishing Fest (a fishing trip comprised of many leaders in the coffee industry). When I came back I was enthralled with the idea of coffee as a lasting career and starting thinking about buying my own stand.
|Me and the shop opening weekend 2010|
To be honest, I was more than enthralled with the idea, I was obsessed. I started dreaming about owning my own shop. I had a reoccurring dream that the window in my room was literally a drive-thru and I worked from home. I started reading books on small-business and writing a business plan. Yeah, I nerded out big time. But that all paid off, because in August of 2010 I bought my first drive-thru.
|Mr. and Mrs. Andersen at Cedar River Coffee Co 2011|
The story of how I bought the stand I ended up negotiating the deal is an interesting one. Looking back I learned quite a bit about how to get business done. While we were negotiating I didn’t realize that the former owner was closing down the next day. At the end of our deal we shook hands and he said something to the effect of “Well good luck on Monday.” It was a Saturday night and I had a lot of work cut out for me to turn the place around in 36 hours.
|Brother and sister enjoying silly-coffee-comrodery 2011|
Not 100% sure how to fit this into the story, but Lauren and I got married in August of 2011, exactly a year into owning the shop. We thought it would be a good opportunity to take 2 weeks away from the shop and visit a coffee origin or two. Thank you patient wife, and thank you to Tracy Allen for giving me the connections in Costa Rica. Where else are you going to spend your honeymoon when you are a coffee person?
|Mr. and Mrs. Andersen arriving in Playa Del Coco|
In February of 2012 Lauren left the field of nutrition to make coffee at the shop so I could start working with Coffee Fest as the Educational Programming Manager.
|Lauren officially joins the team 2012|
While at Coffee Fest I enjoyed being in the hub and networking with wonderful people and coffee professionals. I spent most of my time talking to coffee shop owners, roasters, packagers, cup manufacturers, and everyone in between.
|Ken Bollman, Jessica Rice, and me at SCAA 2012|
After 8 months with Coffee Fest I connected with Bellissimo Coffee Advisors in Portland and began learning how to train at a high level. Sitting in on their classes, talking to future business owners, and ultimately consulting with Bellissimo was a great honor. Through the experience I refined my barista and business ownership skills during their intensive 5-day training classes (highly recommend taking one). I also provided the company with outside feedback and other support.
|Me (in red) in Portland with Bellissimo Coffee Advisors and students from 5 different countries|
Working with Bellissimo showed me a few things that I needed to work on with my own coffee shop, so in January 2013 I rolled up my sleeves and quickly got to work. During this time a few opportunities came up and Lauren and I decided it would be best to make ourselves mobile and sell the coffee shop.
|Great gals, 2 of these women have trained me|
Bringing my coffee story to the present-day, we have just sold our first drive-thru to a great couple and we wish them the best. Lauren has stayed on as a barista to help the transition be as smooth as possible. Currently I am pulling shots with Caffe Ladro as a Coffee Educator. The training program at Caffe Ladro is incredible and led by Laila Ghambari. This is where some of my story comes full-circle, I’ve been fortunate to get training from 2 baristas who have graced the cover of Barista Magazine. What a fortunate experience for me.
|Making drinks at Caffe Ladro|
This is my coffee story as of April 2013 and I am very excited to see where else I end up!
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(Or find him in person at a local cafe near you)